A few weeks ago I wrote a “thumbs up” for the seemingly endemic practice submersible shark punching. While I find stories about people escaping shark run-ins by punching the gilled monstrosities in the face harrowing and amusing, I have recently heard of a much more brutal tactic of dealing with sharks which I greatly disapprove of.
Shark fin soup is a delicacy beloved by the Chinese elite, with a pound of shark-fin selling anywhere up to $700. Recent growth of Chinese living standards has further increased the demand for the delicacy, giving willing fishermen the opportunity to line their pockets. Spurred on by the chance to make a quick buck, fishermen have been fervently hunting sharks, but while shark-fins are worth a lot, the sharks themselves are not. The fishermen have therefore been slicing the fins off living sharks and throwing them back into the sea, without even having the courtesy of putting them out of their misery.
Without its fin, a shark can not maneuvre through the water, and the de-finned sharks die slow deaths as they helplessly sink to the bottom of the sea. In many ways shark de-finning is even more despicable than the somewhat similar practice of rhino de-horning. While cruel and inhuman, cutting the valued horn off of rhinos at very least does not turn the rhino into a quadriplegic. Such contemptible and greed-driven actions represent one of the most shameful aspects of our species.