Protect Sharks; End EU Loopholes

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Reese Halter

A European Union (EU) loophole allows for 44-pounds of shark fins to be personally imported into Europe. That’s enough to make 705 bowls of shark fin soup, or the equivalent of in excess of $70,000 in retail sales.

Let me tell you why this EU loophole must be unplugged immediately.

Each year since 2000, about 100 million sharks have been brutally caught and finned alive then thrown back into the sea to suffocate and bleed to death. Humans have stolen about 1.5 billion sharks from nature. 

Sharks have been on our planet for 400 million years. They’ve withstood the Permian/Jurassic extinction, which saw 96 percent of all sea life perish. Sharks are apex predators and live for a long time, they reproduce slowly and, apart from orcas, they have no predators except for other sharks. In other words, sharks self regulate their populations.

Sharks are phenomenal scavengers. They have no bones; instead, their bodies are comprised of highly flexible cartilage. When opportunity arrives, a shark delivers a burst of speed and a powerful bite. Since opportunity comes infrequently, sharks seize each encounter by striking their prey and feeding. 

Sharks keep their populations of prey fit by culling the old, weak and sick. Sharks prevent diseases from becoming epidemics. That’s why my friend and colleague Jeff Hansen, the managing director for Sea Shepherd Australia, calls sharks the ‘doctors of the sea.’

Did you know that we are now missing 90 percent of most shark species that inhabited the seas just 20 years ago?

It’s insane to consider dried shark fins the same as personal use tobacco and alcohol. With a value of $100 per bowl for shark fin soup, clearly 44-pounds of shark fins are not being consumed just for personal use.

Sharks are facing extinction – extinction means forever. If the doctors of the sea — sharks — die, we die. 

This EU loophole allows for an unregulated shark fin trade. Together, let’s shut this injustice down. We need 150,000 signatures. Bite Back Shark and Marine Conservation have a petition; please sign it.

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Earth Dr. Reese Halter’s latest book is “Shepherding the Sea: The Race to Save Our Oceans.”