Brutally disfigured for their fins and meat, more than 75 million sharks are killed worldwide each year. Through sport, for food and through by-catch, humans have hunted sharks into decimation for more than one hundred staggering years. Where they once ranged valiantly in temperate coastal seas and oceans, they now exist in poor minorities, extinct in some of their historical range. According to CITES and FAO (the Food and Agricultural Organization) more than 100 of 400 shark species have been commercially exploited in our time. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the great white shark is the most endangered, with less than 4,000 remaining.
Shark fin consumption is a leading cause of decline in worldwide shark populations. The dish is served most prominently in China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Shark’s fin soup, a delicacy, is the boiling down of the shark’s fin, later served in a flavored broth or soup, often with herbs or vegetables. The fin itself offers little taste and no nutritional value, but is consumed by the wealthy and by those who believe in it’s purported abilities to heal and strengthen the human form.
Shark meat or flake, sometimes sold as cod or whiting, is consumed all over the world. The meat is generally mislabeled or used as blend and is most popularly consumed by Westerners at local fish and chip shops.
Despite the devastating impact of shark fisheries, a fear of sharks themselves may be the reason for their push toward extinction and for a lack of human response. Represented by Hollywood films as ferocious man-eaters, sharks kill fewer than 10 people every year. Sharks receive little to no legal protection and relatively no protective enforcement bodies exist, despite the species qualifying as critically endangered on mass international scales.
In their bid to obtain readership, the media has perpetuated a scientifically and statistically incorrect view of sharks, misreporting encounters to represent a film-like idea that sharks moonlight as villainous hunters of bathers and surfers and fishermen.
In 2012, as true as October 3rd, there were 2 fatal shark attacks in Australian waters. In 2011, there were 4. There was one fatal attack in 2010, and in 2009 and 2007, there were none. Regardless, Western Australia employs a dramatic shark cull targeting endangered great white sharks and catching sharks of all species, including pregnant tiger sharks.