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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. Felix Leander

    Waddell Robey makes a great point – aside from creating awareness and noise, alternative solutions need to be provided. These fisherman see the finning / fishing as their livelihood (food on the table )-likely do not even understand the impact they are having. Secondly, the demand needs to stop...it is a situation, from an economic point of view (not humane), that is very similar to the coca leaf growers in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia.

    Just to be clear – in no way do I support shark finning – in fact I love sharks and come from a shark loving family...And I think that CNN and Shawn are doing great work to bring this problem to light. The questions becomes – now what? One thing is for sure – we need to work with organizations, governments, scientists together – not against.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  2. magikdy

    I think the best solution.....don't order shark fin soup....the lesser the people ordering, the lesser the demands. Why can't we spread word on that instead of trash talking on blog comments about how inhumane we are about slaughtering animals (including sharks) and do the most simple, basic way.....don't order the soup.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  3. darrell seela

    Im sorry to say that all of you and myself included are guilty. even anderson cooper and all humans except maybe a few non war like tribes scattered around the world are guilty of partaking in some sort of destruction of the planet as we know it. We are a fragile spicies that need shelter and protective clothing. most of us live in houses made of wood or some other material that comes fro our natural recorses. We all eat and drink. we all drive cars rather they are non focil fuel burning or not. We all have some sort of intertainment that requires some sort of needless destruction of some recorce even if it is watching sports on tv or a movie we like. Everything we do in our lives from work to pleasure has a deep and profound affect on this planet. We have watches to tell time. Every metal has to be mined. even cotton that cloths are made of eventualy pollutes the soil because of depleted fertilzre being replaced with man made fertilizer witch inturs polutes our water. All are guilty. It is despicable to here people kinning a shark for such a small portion of use. Per haps we should all look at what we do in life. be aware of what is truly needed and what is waste. find other means of enterainment that dont require more recorses being depleted. sure cows are ok to eat but raising them can also destory the eco system. Even the rich are not without risk of life if something isnt done about saving our environment on this planet. this includes protecting every existing spcies fro mbeing exterminated from the face of the earth.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  4. Kenneth Holder

    I was taken to a Japanese restauraunt in the Long Beach area while at a tradeshow. I was served this soup before they told me what it was. The only way to describe the flavor is: chicken broth mixed with a big dose of snot! Discusting! Why someone would eat that stuff is sick enough aside from the cruelty issue.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  5. Trish

    Does God hear the cries of those who do not communicate in human language? Does His heart respond to the fearful mewing of a motherless kitten or the exhaustion of a donkey staggering under a load far too heavy for it? Does He care about the animals that are bred in cramped quarters and exploited for profit? Does He care about animals who are made to fight to the death, as men watch and gamble on which one will win? Does God approve of men who race dogs until they drop dead of exhaustion? What about spearing a bull to death after it performs before a blood thirsty crowd? Did He create animals to be used in such a way?

    We know from scripture that God was so interested in the welfare of the animal kingdom that He created, that He even commanded Noah, in the time of judgement on the earth, to make the ark big enough to hold two of every kind of animal that existed.

    The Bible actually has much to say in regard to animal abuse. In the beginning, God created the earth and all the creatures on it to be under the authority of humanity. He entrusted these beautiful elements of His creation to our care (Genesis 1:26). Our sinful nature causes us to abuse the animal kingdom, sometimes without even realizing it. Yet, God expects the Christian, above all others, to be sensitive to all of His creation, knowing that exploiting or abusing it shows a disrespect for God Himself. Abuse of anything that God made is not the character of God, but rather of the Evil One.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  6. richard e. dunlap Sr

    I ENJOYED YOUR ARTICLE ABOUT THE CUTTING OF FINS FROM SMALL REEF SHARKS. I DON'T THINK ANYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO KILL ANY FISH OR ANIMAL JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING SELLS GO FOR PEOPLE TO EAT OR USE AS DECORATION. IT IS JUST CRUEL AND MEAN TO KILL FOR EXAMPLE BIG SHARKS FOR FINS AND DUMP THE BODIES IN THE OCEAN JUST TO DIE. THANKS RICHARD E. DUNLAP SR.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  7. Adam

    I urge all of you who are concerned and apawled by this barbaric practice to find and watch the documentary "sharkwater." The cinematography is breath taking and it chronicles just how twisted the finning industry is. The film shows illegal finning in the Galapagos and Cocos islands (both protected areas) as well as the apathy of local governments to enforce anti-finning laws. With out pressure from the public, sharks will never be saved...Make as many people as you can watch this movie it will bring you to tears.

    THANK YOU CNN FOR MAKING THIS FRONT PAGE NEWS!!

    December 10, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  8. Keith

    @Girish: I totally agree with you!

    December 10, 2008 at 2:36 pm |
  9. Cathy

    I have been saying for years a global economy would be disastrous for our wildlife which are suffering from cultures that have no respect for creatures. It just makes me ill that people can be so cruel and stupid for a little bit of money and refuse to have respect for the planet by overbreeding and abusing the ecosystem. Now the elephants are back in danger. All things fought for in the past which were banned are now set back for hundreds of years because of this global economy.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:31 pm |
  10. Charlotte

    It's unconscionable in this day and age that such myopic and stupid slaughter for nothing that is actually needed, would still be going on at such a scale. Allowing this kind of brainless barbarism to continue just because of the cultural tend to vilify these creatures is so irresponsible. There seems to be no evil that mankind is not capable of, for no good reason or even no reason. Unfortunately cultures like the Chinese don't give a rats about this kind of thing. I think it's one of the many great sins that will be chalked up to mankind if shark species are wiped out so upwardly mobile Chinese people can satisfy their snob appeal by engaging in this kind of horrific waste, just to wallow in nouveau riche ostentation.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  11. Sherri

    Watch the movie "Sharkwater". The movie is all about the spiralling shark population due to finning. It made me sick to know this goes on... and on... and on.

    Learn more about Rob Stewart's passion to save the sharks at sharkwater.com.

    And help stop the slaughter!!!

    December 10, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  12. AR

    Madness. Hopefully the upwardly mobile Chinese will get a smidgeon of environmentalism as well and stop eating shark fin soup. And while they are at it they will stop killing tigers and rhinos too for medicine.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  13. Michael

    The real irony here is that when the last bowl of shark fin soup has been served, because there are not enough sharks to harvest, those who used to consume this soup will suddenly be perfectly fine without having it available anymore. As with most health and environmentally-related topics, China is again by far the worst offender. And as usual, they could care less.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  14. Randy

    It just goes to show you china will eat just about anything dog,cats, birds and now shark

    December 10, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  15. Jennifer

    I too believe that this is a senseless and horrible act, but how many animals are slaughtered everyday for consumption? Chickens, pigs, cows......although they are not on the brink of extinction – the process is just as inhumane as the one mentioned above. The greed and inhumanity of man will be our downfall.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:17 pm |
  16. Bob

    I don't like to see things wasted myself, and do believe if you take an animal for food, you use as much of it as is possible. Meaning the skins are used for the leather, excess parts are used for bait or to feed other animals. But I do have just one negative comment about the article, and we get these kind from all sorts of enviromentalists, whether it's the 100 acres a day of rain forest being destroyed to this one of 100 million sharks a year being killed for their fins. Where do these people come up with these numbers, if that were the case the sharks would have been dead and gone years and years ago, it's only said to add shock value, just like the forests of South America, back in the 90's we were warned about 1000 acres a day. If I took that just from 2000-2008 that equals 5132 square miles of lost forest, yet satalite pictures do not show that. It's the same with the 100 million a year number, so let's get real and tell the actual truth when reporting and require folks to do so before we post jibberish just for the sake of a cause.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  17. Matthew LeStrange

    Is there anything that the average guy like myself can do to help? We cannot let things like this continue, or we will not only be putting an end to many of the Earth's magnificent species, but we will be creating conditions that could lead to our own destruction. However, after reading this article, I'm not sure man kind is worth saving.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:15 pm |
  18. Kjell

    that is crazy dude

    December 10, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  19. Michael

    Humans do not deserve the planet. We are a plague and an infestation of sorts. And we never do anything until its already happened. The world will be a better place without us. Billions of people are at risk because we are the worst of the worst, we kill each other for the wrong reasons and destroy all around us, that is good.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  20. JULIE RVT

    Do you see a pattern here? Look at how this part of the planet treats their animals- they bludgeon dogs to death in Thailand for their meat without any sedation. They think the added epinepherine released makes the meat better. The Chinese inhumanely skin dogs and cat alive for their fur coats which we can find on our clothing in department stores. These animals are left to die in skinless, heaping piles of flesh and are often not dead yet while this occurs. They have no regard for animals and just throw them away like garbage. That is how they are valued. We must stop this in these countries! I am a registered veterinary technician and these events OUTRAGE me!!
    We must not support these companies and educate on what a natural resource these animals are.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  21. Amers

    I am so upset. How could this happen. Thank you for what you do!

    December 10, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  22. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Unless there is no longer consumer demand for shark fin soup, this practice will continue. As an Asian, I personally don't eat it however it is hard to avoid since it is eaten during celebrations like weddings. I've tried to educate my family but it's tradition. If Shawn can take his efforts to the Asians so they can see how in the long run it will affect him, maybe this practice will stop. Our oceans have significantly changed with over fishing and the killings of our sharks. We in America see it but the people who don't are the ones perpetuating the harm. What can we in America do to help spread your research?

    December 10, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  23. Noe Hoyos

    Objectively, planet Earth needs a single species to get extinct and that is humans. Sad but true.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:08 pm |
  24. JR

    I had the experience of eating shark fin soup while I was teaching in Southern China. It was very disgusting! I do not understand why someone would eat this normally, it is vile! I think that if these fishermen catch these sharks for their fins, they should keep all of the body. The rest of the body can be used to feed hungry people. We should take care of the planet, but also humans have dominion over animals. I'm not saying to make every animal extinct, because humans have to survive off them. Instead of being concerned about these sharks, when will we focus on unborn human lives being murdered? Now people care more about animals and such over a poor little baby, how repulsive!

    December 10, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  25. Ellen - Las Vegas, NV

    Ten cents a shark and only 95% of the shark is actually used?? This should be a punishable crime worthy of jail time. The practice should really be banned worldwide. Thank you for bringing the story to the public. I honestly had no idea that the sharks caught were only being sought after for their fins and the remaining discarded. Very tragic, very sad, and so very wrong. The practice should really be banned worldwide.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:02 pm |
  26. Rachel

    Somehow, each story I read about concerning the mindless waste and cruelty of humankind, I am still disgusted and bewildered, even though at this point, it seems people have become desensitized to the most horrific acts humankind is capable of. It seems to be humanity's number one goal to completely eradicate the planet Earth of anything that can be used for human consumption that will ultimately end up in some form of sewage. Are some human beings so blind and soulless that they are only aware of their most basic and carnal needs? Our only hope are people that can recognize atrocities such as this, along with animal cruelty and environmental travesties, and are willing to make a stand and reject the reinforced belief that human beings are the superior creatures of this planet. We must be willing to acknowledge the fact that this environment survived beautifully prior to civilization, and changes must be made NOW to ensure that what is left be preserved for future generations of both humans and wildlife of all kinds.

    December 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  27. Steve W

    Just another example of the chinese abusing the enviroment ( not that we americans are that much better) but where does the majority of the ivory from slaughtered elephants go–Asia and China. Where does teh rhino horns for traditonal medicine end up – China . Where does all the slaughtered bear genitalia go–China. All under the guise of " tradition"

    December 10, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  28. Shelly from Victoria, BC

    And yet again mankind takes what it can without thinking about the sustainability of yet another species that it has come to reply upon for food.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  29. Samantha Kobs

    I think this article is amazing, and things like this need to be brought to our attention. It's great that there are a handful of people that are trying to help save species like this.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  30. Mark Berlant

    I had shark fin soup many years ago at a colleague's wedding. Just coincidentally, I never had it again. But, after seeing a recent documentary on TV and reading Shawn's article, I would like to vomit up the bowl of soup I had in 1969. What a disgusting display of mankind's amazing cruelty to animals! Perhaps we should line up these fishermen and their families and those who pay them for the fins, cut off their arms and make them swim. Imagine drowning thousands of fish or leaving them to be eaten by other predators, just to provide an exotic bowl of soup! There is no hope for us.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  31. Rebecca S.

    After reading this article, I was (and still am) beside myself. As animals of the world we should help out our fellow creatures who can not help themselves. I am confident that others feel as I do. If anyone has any suggestions as to how we can help (i.e letter writing campaign or boycott) please advise. I am optimistist that "We" (humane caring people) can win the war of inhumanity ...one battle at a time. Lets start a crusade to show Mother Earth we do Care!
    Help All.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  32. Tim

    Shawn – This seems to be a recurring theme with developing nations running congruent with explosive population growth. Our country was(is) guilty of remarkably similar injustices. Luckily, I like to believe anyway, that we have learned from our mistakes.

    I feel like its our responsibility to prevent our neighbors from making the same mistakes. How do we get involved? The danger here is that people who care and might read this think they cannot impact the situation.

    Inaction is the single largest contribution we all can make to ensure the success of shark hunting, etc. Can you point readers in the direction of action? What agencies/politicians can we write to condemn this behavior? What environmental groups can we support, etc?

    A sincere thanks for bringing attention to this.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:50 pm |
  33. Vic

    People will do anything for money... it is a sad commentary on the human condition. We have a culture that will use up a human being and throw them on the trash pile in the name of profit and productivity. The sharks are just a tiny bit of collateral damage.

    The world has become too complicated and entangled in a web of outdated laws and an antiquated justice system. We have come to the point where individuals are rendered powerless to put a stop to abuses which don't require rocket science to identify.

    To Bev...yes I am also tired of hearing about the destruction of our planet and of the fabric of our culture. The only way for change to occur is for everyone to become disgusted enough to make personal changes in the choices that we make from day to day. That requires education, and education of this type involves some pain...

    December 10, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  34. Christina

    Shawn, I'm glad that when you saw this horrendous act you took at least the small step in documenting it for us all. We all get lost in our day-to-day that we forget this kind of thing is going on somewhere else in the world. It's people like you who bring it into the forefront. As someone said in an earlier post, the human race has typically always been arrogant and greedy. Everything on the planet is interconnected somehow so if humans destroy and eliminate a species just for a taste of soup, it causes an imbalance in the ecosystem and will eventually find it way back around to us.
    It is very unfortunate that this has to take place.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:47 pm |
  35. Zunobia

    It is disgusting....no one should be given such licenses.... Its horrible...
    How can we stop this....there should be some way......so ppl reading this and agreeing upon this could do something to stop all this....

    December 10, 2008 at 1:41 pm |
  36. David

    This is horrifying. So the question is how do we fix the problem? First the problem is not going to get fix by people just writting comments about this blog and then doing nothing. This is one way to fix the problem STOP buying product from these countries. STOP BUYING Forigien made car from China and Japan stop buying clothes from either of thoose to countiers. When and IF people start doing this it will force these countries to change there ways. Because if we cant stop them from killing sharks and whales what is next. It is not the fact that all hummans are bad it is the fact that some are awful.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:37 pm |
  37. G Moore

    I am going to go ahead and play devil's advocate here and suggest that we look at this issue from a new angle. I noted in looking at this article that there was no mention of the conditions under which these fisherman are living. I would venture to guess that is is a lower class existence with limited opportunity and access to capital. I think it is only in understanding man as PART of a system, a system in which we are all complicit, can these types of things be completely eradicated. Before comdemning the fisherman think of the fact that a more sustainable occuppation may not support the human sector of development. Creating a world in which there are sustainable opprunities for ALL is everyone's responsibility.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:37 pm |
  38. rr

    This is terrible! I wonder if all enviromental conservationists like the author is also vegetarian. Because we can certainly save more animals and sea-life by not consuming them. This is true of not just sharks but all animals.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:34 pm |
  39. Justin

    I heard about this happening about 15 years ago while watching the tv show "Captain Planet". They featured this occuring in many asian countries. Why are people still surprised about hearing the way wildlife in general is treated over there: sea turtles having their shells removed while still alive; fish being thrown onto boiling oil while still alive; even tigers being skinned alive, none of this is new and nothing has changed much in 15 years. Until the US government decides to do something about this (and dont give me that BS that they dont have the right to do so, look over in the middle east to see what they can and will do when they think ther is a problem) nothing is going to change.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:34 pm |
  40. Dan

    Among all animals on the Earth leave it to the humans to ruin every thing that was so beautifully created. Humans are thought to be the smartest of all organic life......well now i disagree. Sharks don't deserve any of this nothing on this beautiful planet deserves such brutality its inhumane and completely stupid to kill all these significant animals just for what they have. "yey im going to end the world because im an considerate retard and don't give an ounce of pocket lint about these animals" if your the kind of person that sets off to kill all of these animals or if you support it that comment is me Intimidating you and your subliminal mind. For those of you who support Shawn, Rock on! Those who don't don't even think about trying jeopardy, actually you might wanna consider going back to school for a couple of lifetimes maybe you'll get a hint like maybe you know "animals are just as important as we are in life accept for your case they're smarter" If i can comment in the middle of class on a laptop and come up with this much thoughts (i could go on until the buttons on the keyboard are nonexistent) than there's gotta be a way to change all these massacre's.
    Please get back to me on messenger or myspace

    December 10, 2008 at 1:33 pm |
  41. darrell seela

    I know that most, if not all, schools teach the importance of the food chain, polution of water,earth and air, clear cutting of forest, depeleating of minerals and mining on both land and sea and the conciquences of those things. It was taught to me in the 1960's. You can't tell me that most people don't already know these things. It's not nieaveity. Matagakar (excuse my spelling as long as you understand my point) is reduced to a desert as an example. There are many examples of greed, carelessness, heartless and reckless nature of humans. There was no satelites in space when i was born now even space has a junkyard of crap. if i had 20 dollars to donate to you I would and if it started a path for money to be donated for the cause of saving our small planet of wich we have no other place to live, I would. However with the worlds population growing expotinitionaly I see no end to the depleation of all recorces. It is a bleak and horible blimish that we have left on this earth in our short time on it. humans may not exisit for much longer on this earth but the earth will replenish its self as soon as humans are not on it.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  42. Frank

    You notice that the comments are all from westerners who've probably never tasted shark fin soup. It really is a delicious soup and I always have more than 2 bowls of it when they are served at fancy Asian dinners/banquets. Unlike people who kill an animal for a stupid fur coat or alligator shoes I actually consume what is killed. What is more outrageous to me is when a hunter on one of these tv shows shoots a deer/buck and says "look at those antlers, she was a beautiful deer and she put up a good fight...and those antlers will be proudly shown in my den."
    Get real people, I eat shark fin soup along with a billion other asians and don't knock it unless you've tried it. A billion people can't be wrong when it comes to this delicious delicacy.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  43. Sierra

    And this is why I would much rather give my money to help animals than humans. Disgusting.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  44. Leslie

    What can we do to help stop this?

    December 10, 2008 at 1:27 pm |
  45. Charles C.

    Can anyone name one thing humans do that is actually good for the planet?

    December 10, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  46. Gareth Richards

    These practices are well known amongst divers who tend to quickly develop a sense of awe and respect for the ocean and its inhabitants, no matter their prior background or politics. I too have seen these magnificent creatures up close in their own domain. Most are shy of humans and will scoot away when they see you.

    Thanks for highlighting this in the mainstream press and raising awareness. I call on anyone reading this to pass the word and refuse to eat the product. It's just wrong.

    We also need to be working on practical alternatives for the fishermen. Not enough just to deplore what they do – they are surviving by doing it. What will we substitute? Similar issue as substituting different crops for the coco farmers. We need active programs to give them another sustainable livelihood.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
  47. Serge

    It's terrible. What kind of people would eat that knowing what's being done to obtain what they are eating. They should be ashamed.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
  48. chewbacca

    Thank you for your report! In our everyday lives consisting of going to work, family, and all of the rest of our 'responsibilities', we forget that our primary responsibility as dwellers of this planet is to care and co-habitate with its other inhabitants. Man's arrogance has lead to countless wars among our fellow humans. If that weren't enough, now we must war against the other inhabitants of our planet, to the point of extinction. Clearly, we must stop the selfishness before one of our most important eco systems is destroyed.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
  49. Will F.

    Don't worry. I'm sure China will sink millions into researching why the sharks have disappeared when they're gone..... just like what they're doing in Japan for the Bluefin Tuna and in the US for the Salmon.

    December 10, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
  50. David

    There is no excuse for hunting any animal to extinction. This needly hunting has to be stopped immediately. No one is going to die without fin soup !

    December 10, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
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