Slicing fins of the living shark

Every year millions of sharks die a slow death because of what is known as finning: the inhumane practice of slicing off the fins and throwing the living body back into the sea.

Finned sharks either starve to death, or are eaten alive by other predators, but since they need constant movement to enable their gills to extract oxygen, a majority simply drown.

Shark fins are being “harvested” in ever greater numbers to feed the Asian demand for shark fin soup. The Chinese are the biggest customers for this so-called delicacy and like the Japanese intransigence over whaling, they show scant concern for decimating the world shark population.

Not only is finning barbaric, but the indiscriminate slaughter of sharks is unsustainable. Since the 1970s the population of several shark species has dropped by 95%.

Due to the clandestine nature of finning, it is difficult to record the numbers of sharks, and the species caught. Estimates are based on declared imports to shark fin markets notably in China, but also Singapore, Korea and Malaysia – all guilty of importing shark fin for restaurant tables.

Several organisations campaign to stop finning. A website seeking a worldwide ban on the practice, is STOPSHARKFINNING, which aims to see that all sharks caught are brought ashore intact.

The issue with sharks being finned at sea is that it allows crews to kill large numbers because they only have to store the fins on board (drying them on deck or freezing them). If forced to land the sharks, they cannot kill so many in one voyage. And the meat can be sold. Images: For graphic images of shark finning check out:

About Travels with My Hat

Australian photojournalist and author. Used London as a base for nearly forty years while freelancing in the Middle East, Arabian peninsular, Africa and South Asia. Have written and illustrated more than a dozen books and travel guides. Operates a well regarded religious images stock photo library: Live in Leura in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.
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  1. Mimi Forsyth says:

    So glad you have brought this to light……..

  2. AMA says:

    What is it about this shark fin soup that makes it so desirable , and causes such decimation of the sharks . can anyone advise ?

  3. Shark fin soup is a status food. It is seen by a lot of Chinese as a lack of respect for guests if you do not serve it at important events such as weddings, business meals, etc. "" is not an organisation, it is simply a website I set up myself, we do not accept any donations. I am trying to raise awareness of the danger that sharks are facing because of shark fin soup. I am grateful to the many people who are helping to spread the word and are making a stand on the issue.

  4. Yes, I know that serving it is etiquette in China. Arabs offer a `sheep eye` to an honoured guest, as it were. This being so, one can only hope that this slimy, unpalatable beverage, will be turned down by any westerner who cares more about morals than Chinese culinary traditions.A gentle, but firm `no thank you` is going to have to be the way to make Asians understand `our` feelings on the heinous trade in shark fins/tails.

  5. Rosie says:

    So cruel and wasteful. Some of the things that are done in the name of 'tradition' are just downright ridiculous.

  6. Jenny Woolf says:

    Disgusting – but I have never liked the sound of shark fin soup so never eaten it. I won't, now!

  7. Anonymous says: film showing this heinous trade and the involvement of the uncaring Chinese.

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