Monday, March 7, 2011

Fingers crossed! No Mas Shark Fin Soup!

A bill was issued in Hawaii that seeks to curtail shark finning, a brutal, bloody practice of the global trade in which the fins are typically hacked off a live shark, leaving it to die slowly as it sinks to the bottom of the sea. In Hawaii, restaurants have until June 30 to cook or dispose of their fin inventories, and penalties for possession will be severe, with fines of $5,000 to $15,000 for a first offense. Similar bills were introduced in Oregon and Washington State. The bill is attracting a motley group of supporters, including the state’s sport and commercial fishermen’s associations, aquariums, chefs, scientists and numerous environmental groups.

Shark fins come in varying grades, priced accordingly, with the thick caudal, or tail, fin, the most expensive. It can sell for nearly $800 for a 1.6-pound bag! This comes with the cost of 73 million sharks being killed a year!

Although federal law prohibits bringing sharks onto shore without fins attached, a loophole permits importing fins, which come primarily from China and Mexico. Sharks like the great white are slow to reproduce and can take up to 15 years to mature, making farming virtually impossible. Scientists say that as many as 90 percent of sharks in the world’s open oceans have disappeared. “They’re among the ocean’s most vulnerable animals,” Dr. McCosker said. “The whole food web becomes bollixed when you take out the top-level predator.”

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