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December 10th, 2008
10:00 PM ET

The world needed to see what I was witnessing

Program Note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle.

Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

___________________________________________________

Shawn Heinrichs

Founder & Executive Producer, Blue Sphere Media

I broke the surface having just completed the last day of diving on some of the most incredible reefs I had ever seen. Floating in the deep blue waters, I looked around and surveyed the dozens of forest covered limestone islands that surrounded me.

This was truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. I was filming the reefs in Raja Ampat off the western tip of Papua in Indonesia, one of the most remote and biologically diverse marine ecosystems on the planet.

Cruising back to our camp, we noticed a small fishing boat anchored in a shallow lagoon within the protected area. Curious, we decided to investigate. As we drew near, we made a grizzly discovery. On the blood soaked deck, covered with buzzing flies, were dozens and dozens of shark fins that had recently been sliced off of small reef sharks.

Looking into the water, an odd shape at the bottom caught our attention. Immediately we identified it as the body of a shark. It took all my willpower to control my feelings of anger and frustration. And then I recalled, where sharks should have been abundant on every protected reef, we had not seen sharks the entire week. Now it was clear why. It was also immediately clear what I had to do.

The world needed to see what I was witnessing.

Flipping my video camera on, I documented the gruesome reality of what lay strewn before me: the fins, the blood, the flies, grisly contradictions to these magnificent surroundings.

Loading my camera into my underwater housing, I threw on my snorkel gear and slipped into the water. Below me strewn across coral reef were a dozen, dead juvenile reef sharks rolling gently with the current. Descending down, my stomach turned as I saw the blood seeping from wounds where their fins had been. These beautiful sharks had been ruthlessly sliced and thrown overboard to drown, killed just for their fins.

After filming all I could stomach, I returned to the boat. Enraged, I wanted to do something. Certainly this reckless harvesting must be illegal. Our guide Andy then informed me that the fisherman had presented a legal shark fishing permit which for $30 granted him the right to fin sharks for 30 days. Quick math revealed 10 sharks per day times 30 days, or 300 sharks for $30.

Ten cents a shark!

This was the price for the life of each of the juvenile reef sharks below me on the reef. But what was the cost on the marine ecosystem and the local community that depended on it?

Something changed in me that day, something that would grow inside and drive me to dedicate my life to ending the short-sighted destruction of marine environments and first and foremost, by halting the shark fin trade.

So much of what I have learned about the oceans, I have learned while diving and filming. Much of what we watch, read and hear about marine life is only a shadow of the reality. For many people, the closest they come to this world is a seafood restaurant or sushi bar.

Take sharks for instance, one of my favorite subjects. We are taught to believe sharks are mindless killers, that even a drop of blood will send them into a feeding frenzy and that most species of sharks are "man-eaters".

These myths couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have drifted with schools of over 500 hammerhead sharks and watched as 100 reef sharks formed hunting packs at night. I have knelt within touching distance while a dozen bull sharks, some more than 1000 pounds and 11-feet long, fed on fish. In all my dives with sharks, I never witnessed a deliberate attempt by a shark to injure or kill.

Sadly, however, I have also watched sharks disappear from the oceans. Sharks were once plentiful, but they have effectively vanished from all but a few remaining sanctuaries. And even within these "sanctuaries" they are being systematically targeted and killed for their fins. Fins!

Fins make up less than 3-5 percent of a sharks’ total mass, the other 95 percent is either thrown back in the ocean or used as a cheap by-product. Only small strands of cartilage from the fin are used, the rest discarded as trash. These cartilage strands are boiled and used as a flavorless thickener, like thin noodles, in a watery soup flavored by chicken stock. Shark Fin Soup.

Once popular on special occasions among the ultra-elite in Asia, the recent economic boom in China coupled with intense marketing by the shark fin trade, has fueled an explosion in demand for the soup.

More than 100 million sharks are killed every year primarily for their fins. In the past 20 years, many of the great shark species populations have been reduced by more than 90 percent. If nothing changes, sharks are heading on a one way road to extinction.

So what if we remove sharks? Slow to grow and slow to reproduce, sharks have perfectly evolved for 400 million years to keep our oceans in balance by removing the sick and managing populations. Remove the sharks and the populations of faster growing predatory fish they control explode and wipe out successive layers in the food chain.

The ecosystem has been in place for more than 400 million years, but man is wiping it out in less than 50 years. Close to 1 billion people depend upon the ocean for their livelihoods and survival. What will happen when these people lose their jobs or go hungry? That is why sharks matter.

In the developed world, our consumption behavior is disconnected from its impact on the environment. Most of us don't know where our fish comes from, how it is caught or raised, and what waste products it produces. The oceans are being effectively strip-mined, by some of the most destructive and wasteful fishing practices imaginable.

The result: sharks along with all other large species of fish have been largely fished out of most of the seas with hardly any notice or public outcry. And now, we are fishing our way down, removing successive layers in the food chain.

As part of my documentary I am filming on the global shark fin trade, I spent a week in Raja Ampat. This region was once one of the most ecologically diverse and pristine marine ecosystems left on earth. Just a few years ago long-line fishermen were pulling out a dozen or so 1.5 meter long reef sharks in a single day, but now they catch almost nothing except a handful of baby sharks each week.

Most of the shark fishermen have moved on to find new shark fishing grounds. The shark fishermen that remain now use miles of bottom drift nets instead of lines. These nets scrape off the coral reefs and catch everything in their path including baby sharks, reef fish, turtles, rays and manta rays. The situation has clearly hit rock bottom for sharks and the outlook for the rest of the ecosystem is not good.

After a week of documenting desperate fishermen plunder their dwindling resources, I spent the latter part of my visit filming in the Marine Protected Area surrounding Misool Eco Resort, where I had originally encountered shark finning.

A few years ago, I saw no sharks in this region, but now I observed young reef sharks patrolling the walls and reefs. And a dozen juvenile black tip reef sharks were hunting in the shallows. The local villages that once fished these waters were now employed at the resort and as rangers. They were partners in the protection of their reefs. Their jobs and the entire marine protected area were funded through dive eco-tourism. A far more sustainable way to profit from the oceans.

The unique combination of marine protection, community involvement and sustainable tourism can turn the tide on a seemingly impossible situation, a beacon of hope for our oceans in peril.

Even in a short period of time, the transformation can be significant. And the more people that consciously choose to become part of the solution, the more global the impact.

_________________________

Editor's Note: Shawn is a scuba diver, cinematographer, and marine conservationist, working to protect the environment. As an independent filmmaker and founder of Blue Sphere Media, a production company specializing in underwater and adventure films, he has a unique opportunity to influence our collective mind set and globally fuel the 'blue movement.' His award-winning work has been featured in broadcast, promotional and conservation productions around the world. In addition, he is a published conservation photo journalist.

___________________________
UPDATE FROM SHAWN: A lot of people have been asking me how they can learn more and get involved. Here are some organizations that I am am working with today, each focusing on a unique aspect of the shark finning issue:

Leading the charge: wildaid.org

Grassroots: sharksavers.org

Join a movement: sharkangels.org

Direct action: seashepherd.org

Education: saveourseas.com

Get involved and make a difference!


Filed under: Planet in Peril • Shawn Heinrichs
soundoff (205 Responses)
  1. ian

    Im actually a fan of shark-fin soup. i believe it is called survival of the fittest and this is just one example of it. Im not going to swear off the deer jerkey i have been making for the past 15 years just because some people think it is wrong to kill deer. sharks will adapt and become better at avoiding us and when we catch on and start these episodes again they will once again adapt. this is nature at its finest

    December 10, 2008 at 1:21 pm |
  2. Dave

    As heartbreaking as this story is,it's just another in what seems to be
    an endless parade of such destructive practices perpetrated by mankind.Realistically,our species has not only been very poor stewards of this precious planet,we have been a very poor experiment.
    Because of the freakish nature of our evolution,we happen to be the one who walks upright,has the capacity to reason and figured that was enough to employ our dominion over all other living entities on earth,but when you really take a close look at how all other species conduct themselves,we not only don't measure up,we fail miserably.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  3. Zebranky

    Funny, westerners went to Asia and Africa (and still do) and strip mined resources from those regions until the locals barely had enough to survive, and westerners didn't complain about that. Now one friggin' ecotourist sees sharks getting wiped out for their fins in Asia and is outraged? Why didn't he stop and look and see how that man lives. Remember, the protection of forests and wildlife is a luxury, not a necessity. If one is hungry, or cold, or just plain dirt poor, one is not going to concern him/herself with the environment or the like. Want to know what's really horrifying? Watching western sex tourists come to my country to negotiate with pimps for little girls. How about you guys getting rid of those people and I'll help stop shark finning?

    December 10, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  4. eherrera

    Most of these comments, I'm sure, come from people that either don't live anywhere near the area – and I don't mean vacationers – or live in any thing close to the same economic conditions these fisherman do,.
    Until someone can provide them with incentive to maintain the reefs that is more lucrative than the harvesting, they will continue this practice.
    It is not as simple as governments creating ecological restrictions, it is as complicated as educating the local people, and providing them – either through tourism or some other tangible commodity trade – alternatives to ages of the traditional harvesting anathema to us, yet logical and reasonable to them. Couple that with the need to eliminate a tradition in several Asian cultures and it truly is a complex issue. Stop the platitudes – "how ugly" "how horrible" "it must stop" and work to create alternatives.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:11 pm |
  5. Girish Chandra

    Gruesome act of some horrible, mindless idiots!!!

    But , But, But ….. what strikes me more is “WHY are we discussing just about SHARKS?”, why are people only concerned about some animals? How is torturing those Poor Chickens, those Lovely Cows, those Wonderful Ducks, those Cute Rabbits, and those fishes different from Sharks? All these have lives too, dont they? Millions of lambs, cows, pigs, chickens are killed each day and billions of other animals are sacrificed for the tickle in the human tongue!!! How are these justified? Why are we so hypocritic?

    December 10, 2008 at 1:09 pm |
  6. mitch

    The only thing nesseccary for evil and things like this to continue is for good people to do nothing , Learn all you can and set you own house in order first making sure we don't support things like this in our own buying habits . The disrespect for life is a unleaned trait just as darkness is a lack of light , so the more we know , is also the more we care as a people .

    December 10, 2008 at 1:09 pm |
  7. Jason Glugla

    We are sewing the seeds of our economic and ecological destruction as our solely short term profit driven corporations harvest the cheap labor of 1.2 billion chinese.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:03 pm |
  8. Louise

    I like shark fin soup.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:01 pm |
  9. Kelli

    This is sickening. Really doesn't the human race have enough to snack on with out further endangering intergral parts of nature? I'm by no means a vegetarian, but I know excess. The entire world needs to wake up already. This is the tip of a very large ice berg. Depleting the animal forces takes away from so many aspects of our environment. After its too late is when all the ignorant people start crying for help. There needs to be a world wide reform on all environmental policies. And they need to start being taught in every level of school and community in both developing countries and established countries. We're just getting closer and closer to writing our own death wish.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:58 pm |
  10. Cloud

    Killing animals , either for their fur, fins, have been around for ages. It's not just developing countries that does this. Canada + Europe depleted the Cod population through overfishing. Harp Seal pups are hunted + killed annually in Canada. Many European countries, Japan, and even some natives in Alaska, hunt whales. Unfortunately, as long as there is money involved, living things on this planet will continue to suffer.

    Also, one person said "desperate fishermen are insane". Unfortunately, these fishermen are just trying to make a living out there. Before we judge, we shouldn't apply our standards to others, without putting ourselves in their shoes.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:57 pm |
  11. LarryO

    Work on the poverty that sends these guys out to do this. Unless you are willing to do that you have no right to criticize.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:56 pm |
  12. Canadian

    It's not only there fault. blame us 1st world countries! we ignore all these hungry countries but yet we drop our jaws when we find out the crazy things they do for money. we need to educate these people on how they can farm these animals and breed them for unlimited supply. It is up to us that have more education and knowledge to teach those that don't and its up to those countries to enforce laws on the waters so if they catch anybody doing it illigally, they will be jailed. I'm sure there is someone over there that would love to do this legally as a business in a more humane way, but we have to show them how!

    December 10, 2008 at 12:54 pm |
  13. jf

    I love shark fin soup, dont take away my rights, it is my choice to eat it. Just because you disagree with it doesnt mean you can be hateful to those who eat shark fin soup and engage in the harvesting of sharks. This world needs more tolerance, we are not hurting you or your family. Leave us in peace.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  14. Rycroft

    Thank you for what you do. Hopefully this will stop before other actions are needed to save our oceans.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  15. Jessica Kollath

    I want to say thank you to Shawn Heinrichs for bringing this to our attention. This is a serious problem that more people need to know about. Even as we become aware of such problems, most of us sit around and don't have the guts to do something about it. So thank you to shawn and CNN!!

    December 10, 2008 at 12:50 pm |
  16. Tim

    killing animals or creatures of this planet stems from greed, self pleasure and/or profit. Consumers of meat, poultry, fish, etc.. products contribute/cause this proplem creating the demand, much like the demand for drug and narcotics in this country is created by the users, which has extenuating circustances and negative effects. How can people complain of these wrong doings and then eat their burger... or shark fin soup. Many of these people don't care because they are so consumed with themselves and their needs only or pleasure. They often use "we are meant to eat meat"... It say it so in the bible! Most of those peole have no feeling or spiritual connection to God. Hopefully those people will come back into this world as factory farmed pigs... god willing ... maybe they should start thinking about that now.

    Humans will destory themselves... eventually... the planet will remain.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:48 pm |
  17. Khalifa Wasi Ahmed

    Horrifying it is true.
    But how is it that you are worried about sharks dyeing when more human beings are slaughtered than sharks are everyday? All over the world. This is true isn't it? Or am I wrong in my horror and indignation at the comment above about something to the effect of "I am appalled at what 'some people' are doing to our planet". How can you blame a poor fisherman trying to put food on the table when there are more ecosystems being killed and the environment ruined by the modern oil and shipping industry around the world.

    I am horrified. Am I wrong?

    December 10, 2008 at 12:44 pm |
  18. sportsman

    whats the big deal god put all these animals, fish and birds everything for us to use do you eat fish? ever see a ocean trawler at work? i hunt and kill furbearing animals in season and sell there pelts if they get over populated they get sick and die anyway ..let people use there resources as long as its managed by professionals it may be all they have to live on. not everyone has a mcdonalds next door and can look the other way when someone else is slaughtering animals for a big mac or veal calf farms ever see one of those or turkre or chicken, farms .wake up god didnt put animals on this earth just for peta. i wish people had this kind if passion for human babies being cut out of a mothers womb because she decided she dosent want it now thats a sin !

    December 10, 2008 at 12:43 pm |
  19. Mitch

    The people in Indonisia and other third world nations are struggling to survive. Ten cents for a shark fin is a lot of money to them! These people also harvest sea turtles, sea mammals, and anything else that can feed their family or that they can sell. When you are working to just feed yourself and your family, you have a totally different perspective on the world. It's easy for us to put our morals and ethics on these people when we are living comfortably, healthy, and well fed.

    I am a scuba diver and am interested in protecting marine life, but I also know that the culture of 3rd world countries is totally different than ours and until we can solve the poverty problem, we will not be able to stop the killing of sharks! We can't even get Japan to stop harvesting whales! What a sad story!

    December 10, 2008 at 12:42 pm |
  20. Mimi, Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan

    The bottom line, if there wasn't a market for the fins, there wouldn't be a need to mutilate the sharks. Very similar to what has been taking place with elephants, primates, etc. In order for this horror to stop, we need to reduce the market, most of which is in China, a country that has a long history of insensitivity to the animal kingdom.

    In a country where cat and dog carcass' hang in the marketplace, tell me how we can educate their population not to use dead tigers to enhance sexual desire along with tusks, gonads, etc. harvested from numerous other endangered species.

    What needs to take place is for entire cultural belief systems to fall by the wayside. Impossible, and sadly, our planet will suffer and die as a result of cultural ignorance.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:41 pm |
  21. Thomas H.

    Thank you for bringing this issue to light. As one aspect of a human footprint this topic needs to be in the news to make people aware and help them make better choices. Being on top of the world people need to learn to be thoughtful of other species and of their responcibility to life on this planet. Let the mindless killing stop and shame on those that consume the product of this nasty selfishness.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:41 pm |
  22. Monty

    It is an unfortunate reality that shark-fin soup has been around for far longer than the ability to highlight this ridiculous "food" source at length. The problem is in overcoming an entrenched belief by those countries that either consume it that they are entitled by longevity to continue a mindless approach to what is truly a stewardship of the Earth, or in overcoming the financial gains that provide fodder for those that supply this insantity. It is also a sad fact that the fisherman in this story would probably not realize enough from his efforts to feed his family for very long, and therefore probably partakes in far more than 30 days of shark finning.

    I have been an avid diver and under-water photographer for years and this situation will not get better until those nations that provide or feed this 'market' realize that cultural arrogance and the belief that simply because something has been done before does not justify it's continued practice. The arrogance and ignorance on display in these kids of actions is appalling.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:37 pm |
  23. Allen

    Those of us in the western countries can blame ourselves. Our desire for cheap goods made in Asian countries have raised their standard of living such that now more can afford such luxuries as shark fin soup. As westerners we do the same with many other limited natural resources – so we should be careful about calling the kettle black.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm |
  24. Frank Star

    Shark finning is, of course, just one of the many abuses that humans are doing to the natural world. There will always be someone willing to destroy sharks for their fins, destroy rhinos for the horns, destroy elephants for their tusk, destroy giraffes for their fly swatting tails, destroy tigers for their bones, destroy whales for their blubber, destroy foxes for their fur and destroy bears for their Gaul bladders.

    What needs to be done is to convince people to change their opinion towards wildlife, educate and/or make it unlawful to profit from the sale of wild animal parts. Solving this urgent problem will have to start from the top. Political leaders, Kings and Queens, the wealthy and the influential business men, religious leaders and movie star need to make the effort and the rest of the world will follow. Killing wild animals for profit is not cool! Profiting from the care of wild animals through tourism is. Saving a place for wildlife is cool and a great way for a country or nation to prosper.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  25. Jus Wandering

    This is just plain awful! Sharks are beautiful creatures, but what is more alarming is that we are doing this to ourselves by killing unborn babies.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:31 pm |
  26. Robert Parker

    Its all about politics. If there was anyone in our goverment that gave a crap about environmental issues and the abuse of mans greedy destruction and wasteful use of the worlds natural resources things could be done. When the almighty dollar is at stake, these people have no limits. Man will destory himself, but by the time anyone figures out what we should have done instead of what we are doing at present, it will be to late, which we may already be there on some issues. But it is satisfying to know that some people do care.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:28 pm |
  27. Desiree Naccarato

    This is savage, uncivilized, and disgusting behavior. People need to be educated on humanity in uncivilized parts of the world. Not only are dogs and cats skinned alive for their furs, now sharks are killed for their fins to be left to die heartlessly. Thank you for bring this to light.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:26 pm |
  28. jim

    Sharks are predators- there's plenty of other creatures to worry about- ones that people actually find cute and cuddly and that have zero means of defending themselves. The only shame here is the waste of the rest of the shark- taking just the fin is a waste of some good meat.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:26 pm |
  29. Sukumar

    Thanks for this great story. There is a chinese grocery store in north dallas and they sell dried shark fins for upwards of $250/lb.

    You should do a story on animal slaughter too. I know it doesnt compare killing sharks, but when you grow an animal to devour it later, doesnt make sense to me.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:25 pm |
  30. E60 Driver

    Humans are the top of the food chain. I personally do not care how the food I eat was obtained/hunted/trapped/slaughtered, and I respect people that do care...IT'S EVERYONE'S OWN OPINION. Personally, I've had shark fin soup before and it is quite good. I guess, what I'm trying to say is...these are animals. We are humans, we are carnivores(well some of us), we should be able to hunt, kill and eat as we deem fit.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:24 pm |
  31. pong

    Shark fin is just another food. how about concern about american killing animals just for fun. "hunting sport " ...duh !!!

    December 10, 2008 at 12:20 pm |
  32. JMac

    I was in Beijing for the Olympics and was at a banquet where shark fin soup was served. I was appalled because I think is it so wrong to kill the shark just for the fin. Since it was there, I decided to try it to see if it was so good that they justify killing the sharks just for their fins. As the story said, it is used just to thicken the soup and add flavor. Well I can tell you that it was nothing special and I can't belive they kill sharks just for the fins. If they are going to kill the sharks, at least eat all of it. I have eaten reef shark cooked at a shark bake in Trinidad and it was really good.
    I am not against hunting and fishing as long as the food is eaten. But learning that sharks are slow to reproduce and heading towards extinction, then I would be all in favor of ending shark fishing.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:16 pm |
  33. shakib

    thanx shawn for the report!!!! i'm glad that you took time to investigate the whole situation, and listed the viable solution to this type of horrendous genocide of a species. we need to be able to pressure chinese govt to educate the population and ban shark fin trades inside the country! without them on board it will still keep going on in massive scale.......the way it's going on now!

    December 10, 2008 at 12:15 pm |
  34. Shaun

    Excellent story Shawn! You really bring close to home this distant problem. I felt like I was seeing the seen and my stomach turned.

    Keep up the great work!

    December 10, 2008 at 12:12 pm |
  35. Eric Pepper

    One of the problems is it is hard for people who grew up on Jaws to be sympathetic to sharks. They aren't cute or fuzzy and on occasion, they kill people (though a lot less than bees and wasps).
    That said, they are a vital component of a food chain that is already strained. To bring it close to home, fishermen in California complain that seals steal their catch. The seals are so numerous because their primary predator, the great white shark, has been so reduced in numbers. sadly, man in general and Orientals in particular have a cultural belief that this planet is man's and all other life is subordinate. When one specie is gone, move to the next.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:09 pm |
  36. Debby

    This horrible practice just goes on and on. One more example of mankinds total disregard for the importance of other species, not to mention the ecosystem critical to the health of the planet. What a blight we are on the face of the earth. I am ashamed.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm |
  37. Philip Smith

    Business as usual, it seems - human business. We're in the business of wiping out the last vestiges of wildlife and natural habitats, and frankly, it's revolting. Nothing new: the dissemination of information concerning unthinkable acts of cruelty to animals, extinction, deforestation, water pollution, etc, has been painstakingly spread - often making the headlines - and yet out natural world and it's inhabitants are in greater peril than ever.

    This ecological havoc affects people too (directly and indirectly). Is there any hope when the driving force behind consumerism, material gain, and the spreading of our cities (which necessitates the destruction of more natural habitat) is just as strong (if not stronger) than it's ever been?

    Sorry for my lack of optimism.

    December 10, 2008 at 12:02 pm |
  38. robert parslow kingston ont

    how sick human beings have got what the hell is wrong with peoples heads to do something like this and go to bed and sleep at night shame,shame ,on you

    December 10, 2008 at 11:59 am |
  39. outraged!

    It's the government, stupid! Let me repeat that, it's the government stupid. They are the only ones who can stop destruction of the marine ecosystem and cruel harvesting of shark fin. We have to get to them. Shame them. Tell the world. Show this on TV. Expose tourists to it. Tourists, boycott Indonesia until the government acts.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:50 am |
  40. John Popoolapade

    Greed and Avarice. The love of money is the root of evil, so the Bible says. More awareness, more change of heart, less death of the innocent.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  41. Andy Johnson

    Horrific actions. The message I like to spread associated with Shark Fins is MERCURY, CADMIUM, POISON! Perhaps people will be less interested in eating shark fin when they realise it has very little taste, bugger all nutritional value but lots of poison.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:43 am |
  42. Todd

    Don't just stop going to that restaurant which serves shark fin soup – TELL them you will not come back until they stop serving it!
    Its easy to have an opinion but the next step is needed – to wake up others and make them aware.

    Education is key for real change. That and to give these subsisting people better options and the ability for better choices.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:41 am |
  43. tom

    Is it still legal to shark fish in the USA??? We may not be able to save the world but we might be able to outlaw shark fishing in US waters. Hand wringing is pretty useless.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:40 am |
  44. Martin Brody

    But the soup is deeelicious!

    Seriously, I don't hear any outpouring of emotion for the bovine and poultry bretheren of Mother Gaia. More of the big green hippocracy brought to you by Gore Kool-aid.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:39 am |
  45. Andrew

    What i don't get is stuff like this is happening, and groups, such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are protesting such trivial matters as Brittany Spears using animals in her video shoot of her "Circus" album. I mean come on, people wake up and take a stand for what matters, are trained animals more in danger than millions of sharks being killed just for their use in soup? People need to get their priorities in order.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:36 am |
  46. Jamie

    This is proof humans are parasites. Eventually we will destroy everything in our paths if we don't get it together and think of others things beyond our big houses and fancy cars. How do we get involved to help?

    December 10, 2008 at 11:30 am |
  47. C

    All the concerns I've seen expressed here are addressed by two websites: the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist Movement. Please take a look at them - the people behind those two websites are working very hard to change our world into a better place. Respect for our natural environment, an equal standard of living for all humanity, and a global sharing of resources are the main goals.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:26 am |
  48. Ken

    This is very sad and a disgrace. I live on a small Caribbean Island and recently a new Chinese restaurant opened, when it was found out that they sold shark fin and that a small number of local fishermen were going to supply it the word spread very fast through dive shops and the expat community and nobody went there. It has now removed shark fin from the menu. Acts like this can be done any where in the world, all it takes is for a number of people to act and spread the word.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:24 am |
  49. Sean

    Clearly the author has never had a bowl of shark fin soup... my god it is the most amazing soup you will ever have. Before you condemn the killing of these sharks for their fins, you should have a bowl of their soup to understand why we keep doing this. Are we really going to let ourselves fall into a trap where we stop taking advantage of our position at the top of the food chain? The fact that we have vegetarians in our society is already a slap in the face to evolution. There is no reason why we should let people's feelings get in the way of our own survival and evolution as well. Ending this practice of eating the most wonderful soup ever created would be a step back in the evolutionary process.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:20 am |
  50. Lisa

    It's the wastefulness that gets me. It reminds me of deer hunters who have heads mounted on walls and discard the rest of the body. It's wasteful and unnecessary.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:19 am |
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