Should we eat sharks’ fins? Shark’s fin soup is a delicacy which is enjoyed by many people around the world, especially the Chinese as they believe that it symbolizes wealth, honour and respect. However, the practice of cutting off sharks’ fins alive and then throwing them back into the sea had caused increasing awareness and ire of animal rights and environment advocates. Statistics have estimated that one hundred million sharks are killed every year, not considering the fact that these numbers are still increasing.
In my personal viewpoint, I feel that sharks’ fins should not be consumed due to ethical, environmental and health issues. It is immorally incorrect to cut off sharks’ fins alive and then throwing them back into the sea. By doing so, we are inflicting excruciating pain and suffering to the sharks. Science research has shown that there is actually in fact no great biological divide between humans and animals. Darwin demonstrated how animals and humans are clearly linked through evolutionary continuity and recent research has even shown that similar nervous systems as humans and respond to pain like we do.
It is highly inhumane and cruel to slaughter sharks in such a way that they have to experience so much agony just for the sake of our desires and craves. There is no reason for the very fact of humanity’s superiority over other animals means we have the reason to exploit other species. It is only reasonable for us to leave sharks alone when they have not caused much harm to us in any way.
Since it is incorrect for us to kill sharks, we should deter ourselves from craving for sharks’ fins.
Additionally, by killing such a great number of sharks would lead to environmental issues. One of the impacts would be the imminent extinction of the shark species. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 143 shark species which is over 55 percent of the shark species are facing a high risk of extinction either now or in the near future. It has also been discovered that excessive fishing has caused a 90 percent decline in shark populations across the world’s oceans and up to 99 percent along the United States east coast.
Another impact would be an imbalance in the ecological system. In the natural world, all elements of an ecosystem are interconnected and depend on each other in one way or another. Sharks, being the top predator, act as caretakers of the environment, picking off the smaller and weaker species, but helping to ensure healthy populations and a balanced ecosystem. Hence, if the shark population is wiped out from the eco system, it will have a devastating impact on other species within the marine environment.
Some of these species are valuable sources of food, and economic gains. Therefore, environmental concern is one of the most crucial reasons why we should not consume sharks’ fins. Besides being morally wrong and creating harm to the environment, eating shark fin has been proven to be harmful to our bodies. Some people have claimed health benefits of sharks’ fin soup. However, these claims are unfounded. Instead, in fact, sharks contain a high level of mercury which would cause damage to the human central nervous system and birth defects in infants.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency caution consumers that sharks, with their long life spans of fifty plus years, absorb and store significant amounts of mercury in their fins often at high level. Additionally, it is discovered that sharks’ fins are often treated with hydrogen peroxide so as to make their colours more appealing to consumers. Moreover, there have been several cases in which business companies sell fake shark’s fins for the benefit of economic gains. The China Daily in Beijing and Japanese language Hong Kong Post have reported on phony fins sold as pure sharks’ fins sold through Asia and North America.
Generally, most of these cases involve bogus fins made from a variety of ingredients before being bleached white with highly corrosive chemicals. The consumption of these bogus fins is definitely harmful to health. Given the adverse effects on human health, sharks’ fins should hence not be eaten. In conclusion, sharks’ fins should not be consumed due to the several negative impacts it will bring to the environment and our health, even to the extent of sacrificing our moral values.