.
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. vera

    I don't know how this turned into a China-hating frenzy but ARE YOU AMERICANS SERIOUSLY the ones to talk about being environmentally friendly? seriously? SERIOUSLY?? Don't make me laugh my my head off. please. What a bunch of ignorant jokes. Like the Americans don't do anything culturally or environmentally offensive. Give me a break.

    December 10, 2008 at 11:04 pm |
  2. dessy febby

    Nice article Shawn, even we can't do much. In my country it's legal.. sorry to say that.. it's all about business, business n business.. so painfull for me to enjoying my dive trip then to see some of people distroying underwater life, am i to naive to thinking.. where r the money goes? some of dive operator said we have to pay for conservation area (entrance fee), but where r the money goes??? i am trully proud.. if u are guys care about this things, n why does my government not??

    December 10, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  3. David McGuire

    We need more attention to this important issue. Good job Shawn.
    We hope to send the message to the big consumer of shark fins with a translation of Shark Stewards with the help of WildAid.
    http://www.sharkstewards.com

    December 10, 2008 at 8:20 pm |
  4. Jack Raiden - D.C.

    Poeple who hunt sharks for their fins need to meet a few hungry tigersharks in dark waters. Personally. i couldnt care about wars. and poeple dying. 99% of all humans are corrupt and evil anyhow. but animals are not. sharks dont have rifles and grenades to protect themselves, so ever person a shark does kill, eat or both. hes just leveling the playing field. just like how many innocent animals the humans have decimated over the years? whats next the polar bears? God help them fight back. i would rather the world loose humans than animals. theres already far too many humans on this planet. let me ask this to those who are willing to answer, Do you honestly see animals alive in 150 years? or are they all going to be 3rd grade history?

    December 10, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  5. Pandonodrim

    Stop the fining! It's one of the largest, most heinous crimes ever committed by mankind, and that's saying a lot!

    December 10, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  6. Fallopia Tuba

    I echo Michael's comment that the world will be a better place without us.

    Not only that, but the joke is on those who eat shark fin soup and shark meat: shark is highly polluted with mercury because sharks are "apex predators" who are at the top of the food chain. However, according to Chinese tradition, humans who eat sharks' fins and tiger penises take on the ferocity and virility of the animals they consume. Good luck with that.

    December 10, 2008 at 7:44 pm |
  7. Sandy

    JR – You are SICK – who CARES about a "poor little unborn baby????" Humans are a dime a dozen – not a precious thing. We have destroyed this planet and many of the creatures that are supposed to share it with us. Humans will become extinct and hopefully, the planet will begin to heal itself. What we need is a good plague to reduce human numbers.

    December 10, 2008 at 7:40 pm |
  8. Anna, HK

    Eating shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in Asia & has been around for generations... A habit like this cannot be changed overnight, but publicizing & educating the public (not just Asians!) on the dwindling plight of sharks is a very good start......

    December 10, 2008 at 7:34 pm |
  9. Pete Down Under

    Unfortunately this has been going on for years. Only in recent times the shark fin boats have moved east in to the Raja Empat area in any sort of numbers as the numbers of sharks in western Indonesian waters have been depleted.

    There are a number unscrupulous business people that look for poor fisherman and offer them lots of Rupiah (only a few dollars for us) which they obviously take so as to support their families. Things like this will only change through education and then support for the fisherman to find new ways to earn money.

    So much fish is being taken from the oceans that not only sharks are at risk but also tuna, mackerel, reef fish and many others.

    Policing the worlds oceans is very difficult especially for countries that have numerous islands and a vast area's to protect.

    December 10, 2008 at 7:33 pm |
  10. Chris

    Just want to comment on the comment about the "unprovoked attacks" in Florida etc.. yes they are unprovoked, but WE are the ones in THEIR territory... Its like any wild animal stalking another, we are in their territory and free game as far as they are concerned...

    December 10, 2008 at 7:02 pm |
  11. Melissa, Los Angeles

    The Chinese have always ate shark Randy. I hope you're a vegan and if you're not you're a hypocrite for judging others on the type of meat they consume because it's not a cow, chicken or pig.

    December 10, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  12. E60 Driver

    It's a shark for crying out loud...who cares...if it tastes good, I'm eating it, be it shark, beef, chicken, pork, dog, ostrich, cat whatever. Humans are top of the food chain and if I choose to eat whatever it is, then let me. If you don't eat it...that's fine. We need to quit worying about everybody else...let me do my thng and you do your thing and just let it be.

    December 10, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
  13. Sandy

    How about humans STOP OVER REPRODUCING and give other species a chance???? Overpopulated, arrogant, wasteful, greedy, selfish, perversions IMHO re the human race.

    December 10, 2008 at 5:48 pm |
  14. MPalalay (California)

    Your eye-opening article reminds me of a vacation trip my family took three years ago to a northern coastal town of the Philippines, the hometown of our late father. On the way back to our family hotel from a trip to the city, my brother ordered the driver to drop by a fishmonger's streetside stall where we always bought the freshest catch of the day for our personal as well as our hotel guests' consumption. Upon inspecting the bucketful of live lobsters that the vendor had saved for us, I had noticed one that could not have had been bigger than three inches.

    I had alerted my brother about this, and pleaded with him to request the fisherfolks to please refrain from catching these undersized lobsters, considering such indiscretion could undoubtedly impact the already fragile ecosystem. My brother took a look at it, paused in contemplation, and then reluctantly responded, "Ading (Little sister), there are different kinds of laws that operate within these struggling fisherfolks–the law of the jungle and the law of survival. The mentality is that: if they don't take the undersized lobster or fish and sell it, someone else will."

    What or how can one respond to that? Still, comparing two evils, the wanton shark slaughter for the fins seems much more extreme, gruesome, and yes, unconscionable–to say the least.

    December 10, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  15. Kevin Zelko

    To the people who posted responses of "who are you to tell me what to eat?" and "I like Shark Fin soup" and lastly "Bull Sharks do attack others, we should worry about the sharks that don't" -
    It's about the ecosystem stupid. The web is connected to all beings with predators relying on their hunt. We don't fit into this chain. Extinction is forever.

    December 10, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  16. jim

    It goes to show that there is no way to stop this. It would be impossible to stop this tragedy. Eventually these sharks may be extinct .

    December 10, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  17. RAy

    The Matrix was right. "We" are the virus living on this host, and there is no cure, other than to kill the host.

    December 10, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  18. sam galan

    As a diver I too understand the problem- It's really sad that society does nothing to do about something until there's a disaster even though we are well aware of the situation.

    December 10, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  19. Matt

    All of you are morons. Crying about the poor sharks and saying that "mankind is the worst thing to happen to the Earth," and saying that the fishermen should be killed. Yeah, it sucks that sharks are being killed for only their fins, but thats how the world has worked since the beginning of time. Have you ever taken a moment to look at the lives of those fishermen? They are poor, uneducated people who live off the land and have no other options to make a living. Its not like they're going back to their mansions, sipping Cognac and laughing about their days catch. This is human nature people, I swear to do my part and never order shark fin soup and tell my friends about this too, but some of you need to take a chill pill.

    I'm going to stop eating apples, I just read that an apple tree cries everytime that its fruit is picked...

    December 10, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  20. CC

    The article was indeed heartbreaking. What disturbs me even more is to read the comments and actually have individuals attack the environmentalists and where they are getting their numbers. This is the kind of person that breeds this kind of abuse of our environment. The ones that are made aware of the human atrocities and still twist the story around to attack the very people who want to change this environmental abuse and save our world. The issue isn't, is the math off, and the rain forests are actually only losing 2132 sq miles of forest. The issue is, who cares about the math, these ARE in fact atrocities visited upon nature by the human race and it needs to be stopped. Forget the math and use common sense. We are killing our world.

    December 10, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  21. Tony

    The problem is us: mankind.
    This has been going on since man entered the scene. Modern techniques have just accelerated it along the exponential pace of technology.
    We will either starve ourselves out of this world or blow each other up. Mankind rarely has a sense of community/organization on a global scale.

    Our population is out of control, and resources are finite. When you look at the ocean, it's size is quite unimaginable. But one has to realize, every catch taken, every pollutant added, and every degree of temperature increased will have an impact somewhere.

    December 10, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  22. Michael J. LaCorte

    Men like you are indeed a special breed. A breed of man that attempts to defend the defenseless, in which there are plenty.

    It is sad that most people are unaware of the atrocities being committed to Marine specimens, Animals and of course Human Beings everywhere every day. The World needs to provide you, and Men and Women like you with a World of continual Support for the efforts and the caring that you pour into life (not just your own) every day, all forms of Life.

    These Horrible things must stop and are a very big deal. What is it going to take to wake up this planet. Keep doing what you are doing and maybe some one, some Governments, some People will stop the rdiculous need for the unnecessary. Money needs to pour into the work of those who care as much as you do so maybe, just maybe someone really important, will start doing something about this type of Slaughter. The World owes you and people like you who Care enough to do what you do more than a read of a story.

    There are so many people with so much power and money on this planet, yet they seem not to care at all, even when one day their children, if for no other reason will inherit what we have destroyed and are detroying Now. Most of these people are more worried about what they wear than the work in which you do.

    Thank You for showing us what we would otherwise never see.

    December 10, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  23. Francis Picard

    We need an international ban on this kind of practice and governments need to act now to protect sharks. What is also needed is a worlwide campaign to end this cruelty. I have seen the movie Sharkwater and I believe everyone should see this film, it has made me realize the importance of protecting and safeguarding all of the great diversity of life on earth.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  24. Wolfgang Leander

    To think that we are exterminating sharks so that thoughtless people can have their fins in a bowl of soup is absolutely SICKENING!!!!!!! This madness has to stop lest we hurt ourselves!!!

    Sharks play a pivotal role in the delicately balanced marine eco-systems. The health of our oceans, indeed of our blue planet as a whole, depends on their survival.

    I have dived with sharks countless times, have gotten to know them as sensitive, intelligent, non-aggressive creatures.

    Tell a dog lover that all dogs will be slaughtered to end up in a steaming pot – that is how I and many others feel about the imminent fate of a species that is almost as old as God himself...

    December 10, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  25. NYChinatown

    i guess i just have to wait a while until they're duplicate enough then go back and chowhound some good sharp fin soup w/balsamic vinegar...how's that sound ev'rybody?

    December 10, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  26. Souvann

    1.3 billion people in China, plus the millions in
    Singapore, Indonesia, and Phillipines.....and they love exotic meats.

    That's a lot of wildlife animals.

    Scary! Scary! Can the UN do anything about this?

    Not only Animals, but the Chinese and Thai are committing human rights violations against indigenous people, the Hmong in particular, in Asia. We just met a UN repertoire Dr. James Anaya at the University of MN today--It is very sad. UN needs to punish those who committed the crimes.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  27. Kurt Lieber

    Very compelling article. We need to do all we can to make sure that sharks survive humanity's endless assault on the environment. Let one thing be clearly understood: sharks are one of the key ingerdients to a healthy and thriving marine environment. Without them the whole system goes out of balance. Unless you want to be left with an ocean full of jellyfish and algea, we better stop this slaughter NOW!!

    December 10, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  28. C

    As I posted this morning (11:26am), 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. I have faith in the goodness of humanity, and believe we can work together to solve the problems of: a degraded environment, an unequal standard of living, and global resource-hoarding.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  29. pat p

    Thank you so much for this story. We are all so busy with our lives
    that we do not take the time to think about things like what does it take to produce a bowl of shark fin soup.. This is horrible. I hope your article will touch many folks like me and they will never again have a bowl of shark fin soup. I know I will not. Thanks again for your very
    necessary work.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  30. Marvin

    While the writer takes great pains to outline the gruesomeness of the discovery (by the way, "grizzly" is a type of bear; I think the writer meant "grisly"), the slaughter of sharks is based on one primary function: So the shark fisherman can feed his family.

    So what should we do? If I choose not to eat shark fin soup, that's my choice (which is OK because I don't really like the stuff anyway). And if everyone chose to refrain from eating the stuff, that's good for the sharks.

    But what about the fisherman and his family? Should he not have the opportunity to earn a living and send his children to school? Should we, ensconsed in our forced-air comfy western standard of living, be the arbiters of what is right and what is wrong based on "grizzly" descriptions of how sharks are harvested?

    Let's assume, just for a moment, that the shark fin soup market collapses.

    What is the fisherman to do now?

    December 10, 2008 at 3:38 pm |
  31. Dina Kourda

    I am horrified and disappointed.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:38 pm |
  32. sharkman

    everyone needs to relax . . . i think everyone needs to focus there attention on more important things like the economy .. if sharks are going to pay the bill then so be it . . . US has become such a girly man country

    December 10, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  33. Julie Andersen

    Sharks are disappearing without us noticing or caring. So few people realize many species are facing extinction. When they find out 100,000,000 sharks are killed a year, they are shocked. And then they ask, "So what? Why should I care?" Whether you have a passion for the creatures like Shawn and I do (and as a Shark Angel and a director of Shark Savers, I certainly do) or not, we still need sharks on this planet.

    Instead of being the monsters of our collective nightmares – they are magnificent creatures that play an incredibly valuable role on this earth. If we don’t act now, we are going to lose our sharks. We cannot be passive observers to the fact we are destroying our oceans – and our sharks. We need people to know what is going on, to stand up and to fight. We need people to care about sharks – and care about this planet. What is out of sight is out of mind. We simply cannot afford to keep this out of sight any longer.

    I applaud Shawn, CNN and Anderson for taking this message to the masses. Sharks, contrary to popular belief, need all the help they can get.

    To learn more about two of the organizations Shawn is involved with that are making a difference, visit: http://www.sharksavers.org (Shawn is on the Board of Directors and http://www.sharkangels.com.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  34. Anne Marie

    When will humans realize that we are next on the endangered species list. Mother Nature will not stand for our abuses much longer. The bill has been mailed and it is overdue. This is not a issue where we can get away with filing bankruptcy.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  35. Bryan

    This practice is disgusting, and reminds me of a dark chapter in our own American past - the slaughter of the buffalo. Seems that up-and-coming China is now making the same mistake, even in the presence of the Internet and widely-available information on this gruesome practice.

    It surprises me that, for all the honor and symbolism of Chinese culture, that many do not consider it disrespectful to kill an animal and then use only 3% of it's meat. That is truly a dishonorable practice.

    Thank you for sharing the painful truth with all of us. I will pass on your article and ask that my friends let shark fin soup become a thing of the past.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  36. Han

    While we try to save those poor sharks, let's not forget Japan kills 1000+ whales a year. Japanese government has defended the brutal killing as scientific research. How many more whales do they have to kill before collecting "enough data"?

    December 10, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  37. Tughral Mirza

    Honestly my heart bleeds to read such stories, worst of all we seem to be so helpless to do anything worthwhile. We can read all kinds of articles, respond with full anger but beyond than that the result does not come out better. Also the other day I saw a documentary slaughtering cows and pigs first hanging them up high by their two legs creating most painful condition for them and then making a cut to their throat in STAGES, I could not believe the screams and jumps of the animal and the butcher was hitting the animal with IRON ROD.. Is it the training and teaching to these so called humans...

    December 10, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  38. stephen

    If anyone hasnt seen the documentary, Sharkwater, now might be a good time. Never thought i would feel the way i did watching it. Can you say, tearing up? Meh....shark fin soup. They should try diving in and fighting the shark for their fins. Pretty sure it would be so easy then.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  39. scott

    There is no one to blame but the people who eat the soup and create the demand for it.

    You can't blame these local fisherman for trying to make a living, you can't blame the resteraunts b/c they are doing the same.

    If there was no demand, then these sharks wouldn't be getting killed. Simple as that...

    December 10, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  40. Tughral Mirza

    Honestly my heart bleeds to read such stories, worst of all we seem to be so helpless to do anything worthwhile. We can read all kind of articles, respond with full anger but beyond than that the result does not come out better. Also the other day i saw a documentary slaughtering cows and pigs first hanging them up high by their two legs creating most painful condition and they making a cut to the throat in STAGES, I could not believe the screams and jumps of the animate and the butcher was hitting the animal with iron rod. Is it the training and teaching to these so called humans...

    December 10, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  41. Alan

    We humans needs to eat. 'nuff said.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  42. stewart

    The Chinese, aren't they a hoot. Lets cut off that Rhino's horn so I can perform better sexually. Let's grab those Black Bear innards so we can ease my arthritis. Lets destroy those bird's nests for, what else, "birds Nest Soup". Let's annihilate those sharks to make soup. Someone ought to take a bulldozer to their "wall" and see how they like it.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  43. KF

    Being raised in Chinese culture, I grew up drinking this stuff. I realize that shark's fin has no taste by itself (like tapioca)...it is eaten only for its texture. It is indeed sad that the sharks lose their life over this...the best thing is to keep a campaign to bring awareness and hope to influence the younger generation of consumers...the older generation can be somewhat stubborn in giving up such a 'delicacy' since it is so embedded in tradition.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  44. Buddy

    Would be interesting to see some politicians weigh in here...or some positive activists that can show how to combat or donate or participate in a PLAN to stop this and the other UNGODLY acts we humans perpetrate on each other (as in the strip mining and pimping examples way above) and on the animals of whom we steward. The "I'll trade you a wrong for a wrong" attitudes I see expressed here do not help. The past is past, recompense is due to the harmed and needs to be addressed for sure, but we are ALL in this together and need some political leadership, not long reports from the culpable nations, exploiters and profiteers after the fact. May God have mercy on us all.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  45. ramasan

    How many of you complaining about these sharks are vegetarian? Vegan?

    I abhor any and all animal cruelty, and cringe at the thought of even buying leather shoes, as I know there is a very sensitive mammal getting abused because of the incremental support I am providing by buying something leather.

    The dairy industry in very tightly coupled with the meat industry. What do you think happens to the male offspring of those lactating cows?

    Pigs, chickens, turkeys, all of them dying so you can enjoy some meat.

    One final thought – your choice of what you eat is *at least* as important as how much and what you drive – with respect to your carbon footprint.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  46. Alex

    We should just enjoy them while they last. so what. Welcome to the food chains you idiots! We all are part of a food chain, HELLO!

    December 10, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  47. Ron

    We are a pathetic species, the end of our existance is only short years away. We will destroy ourselves!

    December 10, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  48. Jason

    Absolutely disgusting. Watch 'Sharkwater' for more info. It will take 15 years for the Asian market demand for shark fin to stop, but only if our government bans it now and speaks out! Every year that we delay, the shark populations will continue to dwindle.

    December 10, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  49. Kris

    Those interested in taking action to stop this needless waste may visit hsi.org/sharkfin for a list of ways to help. Thank you!

    December 10, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  50. Jason

    What can we do to stop this?

    December 10, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5