Sun, Jun 26, 2011 - Page 8 News List


The plight of sharks

Your recent article (“Mass extinction threatens seas,” June 23, page 6) paints a stark picture of the coming ecological breakdown that will engulf global ecosystems, especially those of the oceans.

As the article says, there are many contributing factors to the oceans’ crisis: climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and unsustainable fishing.

Sharks endure one of the most unsustainable rates of overfishing.

They are almost only caught to strip off their fins, which are used in East Asian cultures in the preparation of shark fin soup. Shark finning is brutal and destructive: It is both an animal rights issue — as most sharks are still alive when their fins are cut off and often thrown back into the water to die a slow and painful death — and an environmental issue because shark populations are declining worldwide.

According to Wikipedia, about 40 million sharks are killed every year. Because they are top predators, their removal severely harms marine ecosystems. Once they are gone, marine ecosystems will never be the same.

And what for? So rich people and newlyweds can enjoy a bit of arrogant showing--off. This is disgusting and pointless. If people really need to show off their money or celebrate their wedding, there are many other ways of enjoying themselves.

Taiwan is an especially bad perpetrator in this global slaughter.

A recent documentary by Animal Planet called Crime Scene Wild revealed that Taiwanese traders make huge amounts of money from selling shark fins, and often these fins come from endangered species that should not even be traded.

Even worse, those profits are not economical: Recent studies have shown that sharks are worth more alive than dead (“Sharks worth far more alive than dead, researchers say,” May 4, page 6). So these are unscrupulous and selfish businesspeople who just want to make quick money and do not care at all about the planet. The Taiwanese government should ban shark fin soup.

Here in Taiwan, students at various universities, including mine, have tried to raise awareness about the issue of shark finning (“Students, activists mount campaign to shun shark fin soup,” May 19, page 2). Students can help with this movement by asking the government to stop this senseless slaughter, but also by protesting in front of the many shops that still offer shark products. We are all called upon to save sharks so future generations can enjoy them, too — alive, not in a soup dish.



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