Chinese Conservation Education Trust

Why Chinese should support “Save the Shark with Love” campaign?         

Estella Lee

The oceans need sharks. Human need sharks and oceans

Sharks have existed on our Earth for almost 500 million years, since before the time of dinosaurs. They play a critical role in the Earth’s natural ecosystem.

Sharks are at the top of the ocean food chain. What happened in California has demonstrated that depletion of sharks causes a proliferation of marine life in the middle of the ocean food chain, leading to a big drop in the smaller prey species at the bottom of the food chain, as well as a great decline in shells and crustacean marine life. The loss of these small fish, small shrimps and small crabs, means the loss of big fish, big shrimps and big crabs and the loss of their function of filtering and cleaning the ocean water. This in turn has led to the population explosion of micro-organisms, resulting in pollution of oceans and upsetting the balance of the marine ecosystem.

We have, of course, heard about sharks attacking human. But sharks usually hunt old, sick or dead prey. Without these scavengers, the oceans will be polluted with bacteria, germs and decaying carcasses.

Many sharks live a long life and mature late, from over 10 to 20 years. The massive demand for shark fin can easily push them to the brink of extinction.

Sharks are viviparous mammals that give birth to only 2 to 3 offspring a year. Due to its low reproduction rate, the annual killing of close to 100 million sharks by human beings has left sharks near threatened with extinction.

The high interdependency of marine life means that every species has an important role to play. The demise of any species has serious impact on the marine ecosystem.

Ocean fish provide essential source of protein for 1/6 of the Earth’s human population.

Oceans provide about 70% of the oxygen we need and also help to clean up a large portion of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

Apart from the above factors, we Chinese have more reasons to support the “Save the Shark with Love” campaign:

  • Every year an estimated 73 million sharks are killed to meet the demand for shark fin. In recent 50 years, shark population has dwindled 80%.
  • Only the Chinese and Asians like shark fin soup, know how to cook it and hunt sharks for their fins to make the soup, resulting in huge decline in the shark population.
  • You do not eat shark fin soup, but since you are Chinese, you do not look much different from those who do. If shark protection has triggered any anti-Asian or anti-Chinese operations, you and I will be attack targets!
  • Instead of waiting for the mainstream to point the finger at the Chinese and create other problems (such as racial issues), if we Chinese can proactively support shark conservation, these negative consequences can be avoided.
  • Chinese participation in shark conservation indicates that we are positively helping to solve the problem, that we are not cold blooded and that we are not accomplice to the extermination of sharks.
  • As we have firsthand experience of eating shark fin and as we know the core of the problem, our Chinese appeal to help will be more powerful.
  • Chinese will be able to establish a good reputation with the mainstream, especially with the mainstream environmental protection community groups.
  • The call to save the shark is gathering massive global attention. Legislation to ban shark finning is fast becoming inevitable in New Zealand. When the anti-shark finning law comes into effect, we Chinese will be able to share the honour.

It’s widely known that many sharks are killed only for their fins. A lot of the sharks are finned alive and tossed back into the sea to die a long and painful death. Shark finning is very cruel and inhumane! But to talk about humane practice to some hard-hearted people who have no qualms in eating deep fried fish meat cut from a fish that is still alive and struggling is like preaching to deaf ears! It’s only through legislation that we can effectively stop the rapid decline of shark population and ban the barbaric and wasteful practice of slaughtering sharks only for their fins.