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Living Lightly column

What is the Shark Fin Trade?

By Tess Middleton, Fin Free Albury Wodonga

By now you would have noticed all my articles have one common theme – the Shark Fin Trade. You may wonder what this trade actually is, why I care about ending it and what it means for the sharks. As I have no intention of silencing my voice against the trade I’d like to get you all on board too (no pun intended!) So sit down with your morning coffee and in 10 minutes I hope you have an enhanced empathy of this horrific trade.

Sharks are being killed at a rate of 73 million every year, 8000 every single hour all for a delicacy known as Shark Fin Soup. The fin itself does not add to the flavour of the soup, only the texture.

Shark Fin Soup originated in the year 968AD by a Chinese emperor, the dish is seen as a symbol of status, hospitality and wealth in China. Served at weddings and banquets and selling for over $100 AUD per bowl in many establishments globally

The soup is most popular in Hong Kong and China with Hong Kong being at the core of the trade. Fins can be seen drying in city streets and on rooftops. Indonesia is the biggest catcher and exporter of shark fins, sending the fins to China, Japan and Taiwan.

So why is this a big deal? 90% the global shark population has been wiped out, with over one third of all species threatened with extinction; sharks are being killed 30% faster than they can reproduce. The actual act of shark finning is horrific to say the least. Sharks are captured at sea, their fins sliced off while they are still alive and their bodies kicked off the boat, left to die an agonising death. Sharks cannot swim or breathe without their fins; there is no escape or survival for these sharks once they are kicked overboard. Up to 98% of the shark is wasted as the fins are the most valuable part of the shark. Their bodies are not kept as their meat, flake, is known as junk meat; containing high levels of mercury and other toxins not safe for human consumption, so their bodies are of no value to the fishermen.

Thank you for reading and I hope to have you as a voice for our voiceless.