Has Year Old Shark Protection Law Helped Ban Shark Fin Soup?

By November 7, 2011 Ocean News
Anti-Shark Fin Soup Advert
Anti-Shark Fin Soup Advert

Mad Mermaids' advert to help the "Ban Shark Fin Soup" Movement

The US government passed a law protecting sharks in US waters last December. Since that time, there have been many Ocean Conservation Movements by many organizations including Rob Stewart’s United Conservationists and Shark Truth, just to name a few. There are many possible reasons why the movement to ban sharks has become so successful, but did the US shark protection legislation help spark the movement?

A Bit of Background of the Shark Fin Soup Boom

Shark fin soup was a dish not well known to much of the world 10 years ago; however, the dish has taken the world by storm and it is charged with the decline in 90% of the world’s shark population. Shark fin soup used to only be available to the rich in Asia and was not eaten for it’s wonderful taste. It s more of a status symbol…and it’s expensive.

Asia’s economy, especially China’s, is growing like crazy, which means more families have more money. So think about this…Chinese people have more money and they are looking to show it off. A good way to show off is to eat (food is very important in the Chinese culture) some food that shows off status…Shark fin soup. So, you now have more people eating shark fin soup; that shouldn’t be too bad right. Shark fin soup has been eaten by the Chinese people for centuries. The problem lies in how many people are eating Shark Fin Soup. China has one of the largest populations in the world (in the billions), not counting the Chinese people who have emigrated to various parts of the world. So more people, millions more people, have money and are eating Shark Fin Soup.

Simple economics (and I mean simple because I don’t understand economics!) tells us that supply will follow demand. Demand is high so the supply needs to increase. So sharks in demand, which causes the world’s shark population to be hunted to no end.

The Need For Protection

So in comes the need for protection, which most countries have granted; although, many countries have flipped flopped on the issue where fishermen pressure the government to grant them permits due to the high yields in money involved. When the world found out about shark finning through a powerful documentary called Sharkwater, they SPOKE UP and made some noise to the point where many governments reacted, including the US.

The Importance of the US Protection of Sharks

Shark finning for Shark Fin Soup may not have been active in US waters, but the law provided US cities with the support to add legislation to ban shark fin soup as it was against the federal Shark protection laws. Without the law, the city bans against Shark Fin Soup may not hold up.

So now many cities around the US are considering banning Shark Fin Soup and the movement has spread up to Canada where a major city, Toronto, Ontario, and smaller towns like Brantford, Ontario have banned the selling of Shark Fin Soup. The movement is huge and it really seemed to take off in the beginning of 2011, right after the Us Shark Protection Law passed.

What is your opinion on the matter. Do you think the US Shark Protection Ban helps the banning of shark fin soup movement? Let Us Know!

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  • Here’s a quote from a US fisheries observer in the Southeast: when he reported to NMFS shark-finning on a vessel that was contracted by NMFS for a bycatch mitigation study on hook design, the debriefer “chuckled at the fact that the boat did it while [the Observer] was on board and while they were working under a government contract.” As far as he knew this was not reported to NMFS enforcement. These types of fisheries violations are tolerated by at least the Southeast region of NMFS. Observer programs in the US have compliance monitoring as a major component of the programs but not so in the Southeast. This requires coordination with other agencies and support of Fisheries Observers, which appears to be lacking in this region. Please see our letter to NOAA’s Inspector General:


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