Sharks under Attack
By Jani Schulz
“Finning a shark is the equivalent to cutting Bambi's legs off and releasing the deer back into the forest to die a horrific and painful death.” Baron Jupp Kerkerinck Zur Borg, President of the Shark Research Institute.
Shark Finning is defined by the Shark Research Institute as “the practice of removal and retention of shark fins and the discard at sea of the carcass.” Statistics presented at the State of the Oceans Eco-Summit held in Costa Rica this past August stated that 90% of the world's shark population has already been annihilated; each year 100 million sharks are killed worldwide to supply Asia’s demand for shark fin soup, a regional delicacy believed to be an aphrodisiac.
These fish are also being depleted by irresponsible long-line commercial fishing practices, which use lines up to 40 miles long and drag nets. Such methods result in accidentally hooking an estimated 40,000 marine animals including sea turtles and dolphins, known as “by-catch”.
According to the latest statistics, well-meaning laws in Costa Rica have not been successful in curtailing the loss of sharks and other marine life. Todd Staley, President of FECOPT, Costa Rica's organization for responsible sport fishing practices, stated “ Asian fleets, and long liners in general have depleted the eastern tropical Pacific of not only sharks, but also the loss of between 82-90% of all bill fish.” Staley added, “If these practices continue, it will prove devastating to the local people of Costa Rica who depend on healthy oceans for their livelihood.”
What is Costa Rica doing about this global crisis? Randall Arauz, founder of Pretoma, a local non-profit dedicated to Ocean Conservation, has been fighting for legislation with the help of public support and a petition with over 80,000 signatures condemning shark finning. Conservationists are hopeful that President Chinchilla will be inspired to take action.
The ocean cannot speak, so humanity must speak for her.