Dozens of weary Indonesian fishermen sail into a busy port on the resort island of Bali celebrating their lucrative and controversial haul that is destined to end up at Chinese banquets.
The fishermen show off about 100 shark fins, already sliced off the carcasses, that are ready to be sold to middle-men and then most likely onwards to mainland China or cities around the world with big Chinese populations.
“We don’t only look for sharks – we mainly catch tuna and marlin – but finding sharks is a good bonus. Their fins are worth a lot and the meat is easy to sell locally,” said 33-year-old Warsito, who goes by one name.
Fishermen around Bali sell shark fins fresh off the boat for between $15 and $50, helping to satiate an ancient but fast-growing Chinese appetite for soup in which it is the main ingredient.
via The Jakarta Globe.
The most accurate assessment to date of the impact of commercial fishing on sharks suggests around 100 million are being killed each year.The researchers say that this rate of exploitation is far too high, especially for a species which reproduces later in life.The major factor driving the trade is the ongoing demand for shark fins for soup in Chinese communities.
The SharkAid concert was held this evening at Orchard Cineleisure, fronted by popular local funny man (and my best friend) Hossan Leong. It was heartwarming that so many people turned up despite the rain and Labour Day Orchard Road traffic. Hossan was joined by Sylvia Ratonel, Eli T, Tessera and Darryl Yong in making a public pledge to stop consuming shark fin. The concert was also supported by Nominated Member of Parliament, Mr Eugene Tan and family as well as radio, television and sports personalities such as Vernetta Lopez, Yasminne Cheng and swimmer Arren Quek.
Naomi and I have not consumed shark fin for several years now (and it goes without saying that Kai doesn’t either), and we’re still trying to convince some older members of our families to do the same. Conscientiously refusing to eat the dish when it is served as part of a banquet may be considered rude and disrespectful to your hosts, but we think slicing off the sharks’ fins while they’re alive and letting them bleed out and drown is even ruder and more disrespectful.
In any case, if you haven’t already made the pledge to stop eating shark fin, here’s a list of shark-related trivia you can take a bite out of while you do:
1. Each year, humans kill up to 73 million sharks for their fins but only an average of five people have been killed by sharks each year.
2. Singapore is a major trading hub for the global shark fin trade. It currently ranks as the second largest fin trading country in the world. Hong Kong is number one.
3. Shark fins have no taste. The taste from shark’s fin soup comes from the rich broth, usually made from chicken stock, cured ham, abalone, scallops and other condiments.
4. Shark’s fin soup is not healthy. Shark meat and fins have been found to contain heavy metals like mercury and neurotoxins which are linked to brain degenerative diseases.
5. In addition to long gestation (five to 24 months) periods, most sharks do not reach reproductive age until they are 10-15 years old.
6. Unlike other fish species, sharks do not spawn in the millions, each live birth normally results in two to five pups.
7. Some shark species take breaks between pregnancies. They have pups every other year or once every 3 years.
8. Unlike most of the meat that we consume, sharks cannot be farmed. Currently, all shark fins consumed at restaurants and banquets come straight from the wild.
9. The fins of sharks are normally sliced off with a hot blade before their live bodies are dumped back into the ocean where it gets eaten by other fishes, drowns or bleeds to death.
10. Sharks have existed for 450 million years and survived all of the 5 major mass extinction “dooms day” scenarios, including the one that wiped out dinosaurs.
11. Humans aren’t food to sharks. Seals and fishes are.
12. A single live shark in a healthy habitat like the Bahamas, is worth as much as USD200,000 in tourism revenue over its lifetime and as little as USD50 dead.
13. Fishermen get only 0.1% of what the fins are finally sold for; the main profiteers of the shark fin trade are the traders and restaurants.
14. As apex predators, sharks play a very important role in the marine ecosystem. They help to keep the population of fish species healthy and ensure that coral reefs are vibrant and liveable for all marine creatures in the habitat. A beautiful and healthy marine life attracts divers all over the world which in turn helps to draw eco-tourism dollars.
15. The largest shark is the beautiful spotted whale shark which may reach to a length of 18 meters. It feeds on tiny plankton.
(Trivia courtesy of Grayling)