Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shark Finning - Barbaric and Wasteful

Shark finning

Yet another appalling example of man's inhumanity, stupidity and wastefulness.

It was just a few moments of a 60 Minutes documentary, caught accidentally, while rushing out the door.
The story was on sharks; the increasing popularity of shark watches, contrasted by the intense fear of shark attacks. They spoke of the unlikelihood of such an attack; a fraction of the chance you run making toast in the morning. (Apparently, large numbers of people are being electrocuted by their toasters)
A psychologist spoke of the visceral paranoia we have about sharks, stemming from our fear of being eaten. Legitimate though it may be, in this day and age it is not a common occurrence.
Now don't get me wrong. I am not terribly fond of sharks. On my list of favorites, they rank only slightly higher than snakes and creepy crawly things. I am also fond of my anatomy the way it is and would rather not have it altered by some marauding shark looking for a snack.
The issue I have is what comes next. It seems that, predictably so, it is the sharks who have much more to fear from us than we of them.
Apparently, in China I believe it was, someone decided that shark fin soup was a delicacy. Mmmmmm, yummy, you say. Well, be that as it may. Sharks are not the first species we have killed for food, and I am sure they will not be the last. Do I have some basic objection to slaughtering these creatures for food? No more than the cow or chicken. I have, sadly, not yet dealt with my own hypocrisy on that front.
What I take issue with is the way it is being done.
Because these fishermen are only interested in the fins, they drag this writhing beast onto the boat, chop off its fins and drop it back into the ocean where it will sink like a stone to the bottom and die. Maybe it's just me, but I find this to be simply horrifying, barbaric and tragically wasteful. When will we stop treating animals as if they are tree stumps. We harpoon them, shoot them and knock them over the head as if they feel and understand nothing.
It is a reality that we feed much of the world's population with living creatures farmed from the ocean. That is not going to change overnight, but how can we justify dumping 80-90% of a carcass into the ocean to rot when there are so many starving people in the world. Once again, the justification is the almighty buck. Why waste cargo space on shark meat that could feed a multitude of starving families, when you can better use that space to store a larger quantity of high-priced fins. We are truly an insane and heartless group, not to mention hypocritical. When one of our own gets attacked by a shark, we immediately mobilize. Vigilante groups are formed and the search begins for the creature that perpetuated the attack.
HOW DARE IT!!! we cry. Yet, without a second thought, we continue with a daily slaughter of thousands of animals, not to appease our hunger, but our pocketbooks and our vanity.
One can only hope that the perpetrators of these atrocities will suffer similar fates one day at the hand of their maker.
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