Along the East Coast of the United States populations of large sharks have continued to decline. Species including makos, threshers, hammerheads, great whites, and countless others have seen their populations devastated. As a result smaller species of shark have been on the rise. Two of those species are the smooth and spiny dogfish. Both of these sharks can be found all along the East Coast of the United States and has largely been considered a trash fish by fisherman.
Many fisherman regard these sharks as wastes of space. Just because the shark ate their piece of bait, that shark deserves to die. Often times these harmless little sharks are just killed for no other reason other than they stole a piece of bait. Now though these little sharks are facing a much greater threat than an angry fisherman. These tiny sharks are now in danger of joining their larger cousins in the shark finning industry. With the decline of larger species of shark and the rise of dogfish, people are starting to see finning as a solution to the problem.
Dogfish naturally are shellfish eaters and scavengers, preying on crabs, clams, small fishes, and dead animals. Normally, larger sharks would eat these sharks and help to control their population. Thanks to people destroying the food chain, dogfish populations are starting to grow to incredible levels. At the same time, it is becoming harder and harder for fisherman to catch their targeted catch due to dogfish stealing bait. To help curb the growing dogfish populations, some restaurants are starting to make shark fin soup out of their fins. This is an incredibly dangerous practice as that same practice has led to the mass decline in shark populations around the world. Not only is finning dogfish unsustainable, but it is probably the worst way to solve the problem. An alternative? Here is a real simple way to fix the problem and solve another problem at the same time.
Instead of trying to destroy yet another population of animals, why not let nature take its course. Here's how we can do it... 1st: Put an end to shark fishing. This includes shark kill tournaments. 2nd: Keep commercial shark fishing banned for a 10 year period. 3rd: Watch as shark populations begin to recover in the waters off the East Coast of the United States and watch as dogfish populations begin to decrease to a level that they should be at. Realistically, a ban on shark fishing would not really hurt fishing industries half as bad as some people claim. Keep catch and release fishing, have tournaments that are catch and release. Just ban the killing of large species of sharks that naturally prey on dogfish.
As simple a fix as this really would be, in our world, it will probably never happen. So we will once again take things into our own hands and simply use the same methods of decimating large shark populations to destroy smaller sharks. Of course the great reward will not be the fact that shellfish populations would become more secure, the reward would be the amount of money that people would be able to illegally make smuggling the fins onto land. As far as I know, dogfish is not a good tasting shark and as with other sharks they contain a high level of mercury. So their meat will be virtually worthless, but the worth of their fins could easily give people enough reason to slaughter them.
The dogfish problem in the Atlantic Ocean is one that should be dealt with reasonably. Finning is far from that reasonable way of dealing with it. Finning will do nothing but drive dogfish straight to extinction along with the countless number of sharks that are already on their way to being extinct. Every state on the East Coast needs to try and figure out what to do about that problem. New Jersey hosts several shark kill tournaments targeting shortfin mako sharks, one of the dogfishes greatest predators. Even if these few tournaments were to just stop, New Jersey could just see things change in a few years time and the dogfish issue begin to fix itself.