photo credit Change.org via Tanaka Juuyoh
So I've been following the bill to protect sharks from finning in Hawaiian waters on Twitter via WhySharksMatter.
This week Hawaiian legislature voted to pass a bill which prohibits the possession, sale and distribution of shark fins in the state (only one opposer!). The bill was introduced by Senator Clayton Hee, who compared finning sharks to killing elephants for their ivory.
Shark finning is the practice of catching a shark and cutting off the fins. The rest of the still-living shark is then thrown back into the sea to die a slow death. Many will drown because most shark species need to keep moving to force water over their gills in order to breathe. Others will literally be eaten alive, unable to swim away from other fish or scavengers; others will starve to death.
Two questions come up around the subject of shark fishing: 1.)"who cares?" and 2.)"aren't we doing ourselves a favor by killing a dangerous animal?"
1.)According to WildAid:
"Sharks play a very important role in the oceans in a way that an average fish does not. Sharks are at the top of the food chain in virtually every part of every ocean. In that role, they keep populations of other fish healthy and in proper proportion for their ecosystem."
2.)According to Change.org:
"Aren't sharks a danger to humans? In a word: No. Based on data from the Florida Museum of Natural History, on average, no more than five people are killed in shark attacks worldwide annually. That's five people killed by sharks, versus 100 million sharks killed by people. Quite an unbalanced ratio.
Actually, shark can be dangerous ... if you eat it. According to studies conducted by Hong Kong Baptist University and WildAid, a quarter of shark fins analyzed had mercury levels higher than the highest allowable standards set by the World Health Organization. And it isn't just mercury, as shark can have high levels of arsenic as well. Ironically, in China, shark fin soup is traditionally thought of as something of a health food. Some believe it is an aphrodisiac, which is even more ironic, as mercury can lead to impotence and loss of sex drive in men."
When asked why concern for tradition and culture did not halt the passing of the bill, Senator Hee explained that in Hawaii, the shark is considered the family guardian - a cultural relationship to humans that has given it sanctuary in Hawaiian waters. Former first lady of Hawaii, Vicky Cayetano, adds: "Sharks are more valuable in the ocean than in soup."
Full article here (Change.org):