In recent weeks, bylaws prohibiting the sale of shark fin have been passed in the city of Brantford, Ontario and proposed to Toronto's city council. Petitions have been started in various other cities in the hope that a wave of action at the level of local communities will create a larger, nation-wide movement.
The purpose of this petition is to have the possession, sale and consumption of shark fin products banned in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Shark Finning - What it is and Why You Should Care
Shark fin is used primarily in shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy. The shark fins are obtained through a practice called "shark finning" where the fins are sliced off of the shark and the rest of its body is thrown back into the ocean. The shark is often alive when its fins are cut off, and it can take days for the shark to die. Sharks breathe through forcing water over their gills while swimming to increase the flow of oxygen through their gills. When the shark is no longer able to swim after its fins are removed, it sinks to the ocean floor and suffocates, often being eaten alive slowly by scavengers. Only the fins are harvested and retained because shark meat is of low economical value, whereas a pound of shark fin is worth $200-400, and a bowl of shark fin soup can cost more than $100 a bowl.
Records of the species and total number of sharks harvested globally for their fins do not exist as the fishery is un-regulated and the practice is banned in many countries. However, Oceana, a marine conservation organization, estimates that up to 73 million sharks are harvested annually, primarily for their fins.
Sharks are long-lived animals that take a long time to reach reproductive maturity, so populations take a long time to recover after their numbers are reduced. As a result, global shark populations have been reduced by up to 95% in the last 30 years due to unsustainable harvest rates, largely from the shark fin fishery. In addition to the impacts the shark fin fishery has had on shark populations, the effects of the removal of top predators are becoming evident within marine ecosystems.
When predators are removed it allows the number of their prey to increase, this has a multitude of negative consequences as the balance of species shifts in response. For example, on coral reefs where sharks have been removed, populations of herbivores that graze on algae have also been observed to decrease. This allows algae to essentially take over the reef, transforming the system from a vibrant ecosystem that provides habitat and food for a high number of species (and numerous ecosystem services beneficial to humans), to a system with fewer species and fewer ecosystem services. We rely on the oceans %u2013 the removal of shark species is drastically upsetting the natural balance and proper function of our marine habitats.
Policing of the world's fisheries is virtually impossible, so the only effective way to prevent the practice of shark finning is to reduce demand for the product. Shark finning is illegal in Canadian waters, but it is not illegal to possess, sell or consume shark fin. By banning the possession, sale and consumption of shark fin in Edmonton (and eventually all of Canada, hopefully), demand for a luxury product obtained through unsustainable and cruel practices is diminished.
Thank you in advance for your support!