Today on Planet 100: Shark Finning 101

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Shark finning is an inhumane practice that is growing. In today's episode of Planet 100 Sarah Backhouse goes over the what, where, why and how of shark finning in Shark Finning 101.Planet 100: Shark Finning 101 (07/23)

With demand for shark fin soup rising among urban China's elite, Planet 100 offers up a timely guide on everything you need to know about Shark Finning.

What is it?
What is shark finning? It's the barbaric practice of cutting off a shark's fin then tossing the still-live shark back overboard to drown or bleed to death.

The wasteful, inhumane practice is done to satisfy a demand for shark fins, which can fetch as much as $300 per pound. The meat, on the other hand, is far less valuable, so fishermen simply toss it overboard to save space for more fins.

Why do it?
Why do this? To make highly coveted shark fin soup -- which incidentally has no nutritional value and not much taste either - the flavor is all in the broth.

The shark fin is a status symbol and has purported medicinal benefits, especially in China, where shark fin soup is eaten during celebrations among the wealthy. With China's rapidly growing upper class has come a huge increase in finning.

How serious it it?
How serious a threat is shark finning? Finning is responsible for the death of between 88 to 100 million sharks every year - just mindboggling numbers.

Because sharks are at the top of the food chain and have few predators, they reproduce and mature slowly. That means their numbers are slow to replenish when a population is overfished. At the rate humans are going, we're set to wipe out sharks entirely in as little as 10 years.

Where does it happen?
Where is shark finning taking place? Off every the coast of every continent, in particular poorer countries that don't have the resources to monitor and prosecute shark hunters.

The only countries with actual anti shark finning laws include: the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Namibia, South Africa and the European Union while Hawaii recently outlawing the sale of shark fin soup.

Who's fighting it?
Whose taking a stand against shark finning? Chinese mega-celebrity Yao Ming for one. The 7-foot-6-inch NBA star swore off the expensive delicacy back in 2006 and is now a spokesperson for WildAid. January Jones was recently awarded for her commitment the sharks by Oceana, and artists like Shepard Fairey and Michael Muller are donating work to help raise funds for the Sea Shepherd Foundation which is working to put an immediate stop to the shark hunt.

Shark fins ©Jeff Rotman/Getty Images
Big shark ©Stephen Frink/Getty Images
Shark soup ©AP Photo/Eugene Tanner
Fancy restaurant ©EIGHTFISH/Getty Images
Sharks swimming ©iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Baby sharks ©Hemera/Thinkstock
Shark Chart by Matt Martyniuk Creative Commons
Yao Ming ©Getty Images
January Jones ©Getty Images
Shepard Fairey ©Getty Images
Michael Muller ©Getty Images
Sea Shepherd ©Getty Images

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Tags: China | Oceans


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