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Image from npr.org

What is the Shark Fin Trade?

The Shark Fin Trade is a multi-billion dollar industry that is practiced around the world. Fishermen catch the sharks, pull them up on the boat, cut off the fins while the shark is still alive, and throw the living shark back in the water to die a horrible death. The act originated in China hundreds of years ago to make shark fin soup, a dish made with pork or beef broth with the textural fibers from the shark fins. Shark fin soup is now a tradition in many parts of Asia, and has expanded to be served around the world, even in the United States, and even in Missouri.

How is the Shark Fin Trade in Missouri?

Even though we are a land-locked state, the devastating and destructive fin trade is still here. This is possible because fishermen fin the sharks outside of United States waters and ship the fins to Missouri, where five restaurants serve shark fin soup. 

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Image from firstwefeast.com
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Why Should We Care?

Aside from the fact that shark finning is a cruel and wasteful act, there are a few reasons why we should care enough to do something about it.

  • We need our sharks. Sharks keep our oceans healthy by doing their part in the essential food web. If the food web and ecosystems are out of balance, the world can change as a whole.

  • Sharks are toxic to eat. Shark meat contains BMAA, which is a neurotoxin and is linked to neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimers. 

  • The shark fin has no flavor. The flavor from shark fin soup comes from the beef or pork broth, not the shark fin. The only reason people add the fin into the soup is for the texture that comes from the fibers in the fin.

  • Shark populations are rapidly declining. A recent study by some scientists in the Journal Nature have found that since 1970, the global shark and ray populations have declined by more than 70 percent, mostly due to overfishing (such as from the shark fin trade).

Is There Any Hope?

Yes! In 2019, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act passed the House of Representatives, and in 2021, it passed the Senate. This is some huge progress! This means that if (when) this becomes law, it will make it illegal to possess or sell shark fins (and shark fin soup) in the United States, including Missouri.

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