In Hawaii, a landmark shark conservation law came into effect recently banning shark fin soup and other shark fin products in the state. This is a great step forward for shark conservation and it is hoped that the ban will set the standard for other countries around the world.
In China, shark fin soup is considered a delicacy, but the demand for it has devastated shark populations worldwide. Shark finners cut the fins from sharks and then dump the creature back overboard to die a long painful death. Shark finning takes place at sea so the fishers have only the fins to transport; shark meat is considered low value and therefore not worth the cost of transporting. Any shark is taken regardless of age, size, or species. Longlines, used in shark finning operations, are the most significant cause of losses in shark populations worldwide.
Shark finning is widespread, and largely unmonitored. It has increased significantly over the past decade due to the increasing demand for shark fins – for shark fin soup and traditional cures, better fishing technology and improved market economics. Shark specialists estimate that 100 million sharks are killed for their fins annually.
But on the 1st of July the tradition of eating, possessing or selling shark fin soup or anything else containing shark fins became illegal in Hawaii. Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands and Washington state have approved similar bans with Oregon and California expected to follow.
Most divers woudl agree that diving with sharks is both exhilarating and awe-inspiring. Fortunately there are still places around the world where you can see schools of sharks in great numbers such as Cocos Island or the Red Sea. However experts estimate that if longlining continues at the same rate, most species of sharks will be lost within a decade.
The majority of sharks are harmless to divers and shark attacks on humans are extremely rare. Several species such as leopard sharks and the mighty whale shark are quite docile and close-up encounters are common. Divers can even experience being surrounded by feeding sharks in places like Fiji – a very exciting experience!
The United Nations Convention on the Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) lists the the whale shark, basking shark and great white shark as species that could become threatened if trade is not controlled. To date, 169 countries have agreed to be legally bound by CITES but this is largely unmonitored. Shark finning should be made a practice of the past so that we all able to see and admire sharks in the future.
You can help end the cruel, wasteful practice of sharkfinning by diving with sharks. The more money that goes into shark tourism the more governments will realise the value of keeping sharks alive.
Watch our scuba diving shark encounters at our video gallery.
Would you like to dive with sharks? Contact Dive The World for more information on the best destinations worldwide for a shark encounter. You can send us an email, fill in our enquiry form or call us on +66 (0)83 505 7794.