There is a new Facebook Campaign around, involving several students from Li Po Chun UWC who upload the picture at the side as their profile picture. The campaign aims at raising awareness about the shark finning issue and spreading the idea of a “shark fin free Chinese New Year” in Hong Kong and Singapore. According to SharkSavers.org, Hong Kong belongs to the world’s largest exporters for shark fins: “More than half the world’s trade in shark fin goes through Hong Kong”, increasing annually by 6%. Apart from Hong Kong, over 140 other countries are involved in the trade market. Shark finning describes cutting of a shark’s fin after catching it and then throwing the rest of the – often still alive – shark back into the water. Only around 3 to 5% of the shark’s body are hereby used, and the shark ‘thrown away’ inevitably dies from his following inability to breath or swim, his immense blood loss or because other predators prey on him. SharkSavers explains that “only the fins are kept because shark fins are now among the most expensive seafood items in the world with retail values of over US$ 400 per kilogram”. Several organizations are dedicated to stopping this cruel business, as, apart from the death of the individual sharks, the business brings many other problems with it.
Not only are the trade market and the exact finning methods widely unregulated and shark finning occurs also in protected areas; “genetic analysis proves that even fins from one of the most protected shark species in the world, the great white shark, are appearing in shark fin markets”. According to other opponents of the practice, “not only is the finning of sharks barbaric, but their indiscriminate slaughter at an unsustainable rate is pushing many species to the brink of extinction.” Protective laws and shark fin bans have been implemented in many countries, however there is still a lot to do against this business. In Hong Kong so far, only the Disneyland Resort and Peninsula Hotel have excluded shark fins from their menus. Yet it still remains a delicacy in the whole of Asia, especially in form of ‘shark fin soup’. Also, banning the practice might be a first step, but is certainly no final solution to the problem.
While some have claimed that the Facebook Campaign itself is equally inefficient in changing the issue, Hannah, my Irish co-year and LPC Coral Monitor says: “When it’s something as petty and as easy as changing your profile picture for even the slightest benefit of one of the most important apex predators on our planet I dont see why not.”