Sunday, September 8, 2013

Shark Fin Imports Dropping in China

News broke yesterday out of China that the imports of shark fins has dropped off a great deal in the last year. Ricky Leung Lak-kee, chairman of the Hong Kong Marine Products Association has told the Sunday Morning Press that the shark fin industry has been hit hard. The drop off of imports is estimated to be roughly 30%. That is a massive number in just one year. There are a few factors that have caused this drop off. One of those is a conservation campaign that is going on that has caused some airlines to actually stop transporting fins to China. Another factor is the slumping economy that China is currently dealing with. We in America know what happens during those times. People become more hesitant in how they spend their money, and shark fins are apparently not a high priority for everyone to be spending their money on. The third factor actually has to do with the Chinese Government. As I mentioned in my first shark blog of Operation Kibou, the Chinese Government is currently cracking down on corruption, so that has also led to less shark fins being brought into the country. This is major news as China is the shark fin capital of the world. Leung has scrambled to try to reverse this downward spiral by throwing out senseless insults at conservationists. He claims that the conservationists don't care about the fisherman and their families, only the sharks. In reality, the fisherman wouldn't have to do much to switch their catch to a different, more sustainable fish. After all, if you can catch a shark, chances are you can catch any kind of big game fish.

The whole story of the conservationists ruining the lives of the fisherman is apparently a stretch of the truth. China has been having more and more products imported into the country than at any other time in history. China is essentially killing off their own fishing industries, not the conservationists. Of course Leung wouldn't throw his own government under the bus, but it's the truth. To top it off, there are many fish farms in mainland China that are also taking business from the fisherman. 

Mr. Leung was completely ignorant in his statements to The Morning Press, and as a result he showed the world just how uneducated people really are in regards to sharks. Another claim that he made mentioned that there are over 400 species of shark, which is true. He then went on to say that because of that, sharks will never go extinct. It doesn't matter if there were 1,000 species of shark, they can still be wiped off the face of the Earth. Then of course is the old argument, people eat cows so why not sharks? I'm not even going to give a response to that because frankly,it's like comparing a crab to a shark. They are nothing alike. The situations of the species in question are nothing alike. Even how the animals are raised are nothing alike. All I'll say is that the cows are bred for eating in a sustainable fashion. Sharks are not bred in farms and are not fished in a sustainable fashion. 

 The sheer amount of proof that is out there that these animals are going to go extinct far outweighs any kind of claim that Mr. Leung makes. It is frightening when people like him are in charge of things such as the Marine Products Association. They have no idea what is going on in the world. All Mr. Leung is trying to do is worm his way out of a serious problem that he is now facing and has decided that conservationists are the people he is going to take his frustrations out on. Facts are facts. Less people are eating shark fins. More people are starting to learn the truth. Even the Chinese Government is becoming more aware of the extreme situation that sharks are in and they are starting to take some, albeit small, motions towards conserving these animals (the corruption crackdown being one, but of course that is not solely targeting shark finning). With this news there is renewed hope within the conservationist community. All we can do is hope that more and more airlines hop on board and stop shipping fins and that those actions will spread to shipping lanes in the seas, and trains on land. The stones have been cast into the water, now we wait to see if those ripples can become waves!    

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