BRISTOL, R.I.__ The act of shark finning is nothing new to the world, especially in China where shark fin soup is still extremely popular. Rhode Island isn’t quite known for their shark finning, however, the state still contributes to the trade of shark fins, but what’s the big deal, right? Who cares if shark fins are being traded here in the United States, more specifically Rhode Island?
The big deal is that shark finning has caused a drastic decrease in the shark population. Fishermen specifically fish for sharks and when they are caught they then cut off the fins of the sharks often while the animal is still alive. The demand for shark fin soup, drives up the need to hunt for more sharks. If Rhode Island continues to allow shark fins to be traded in the state, they contribute to the demand, which contributes to the problem.
Sharks are apex predators. This means that they are at the top of the food chain, they’re not only fearsome animals, but they help keep our oceans healthy and populations in check. Without apex predators the population of prey species would explode, disrupting marine life.
Sharks are also some of the oldest animals on the planet, in fact, they have outlived the dinosaurs for millions of years. They have survived four mass extinctions, but now they are the ones that are under attack. The shark fin trade has become a million dollar industry and with the demand for shark fin soup, everyone wants in on the money. However, what many people don’t understand is that sharks are actually more valuable alive than dead.
A study done by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada found that shark ecotourism can bring in about $314 million annually worldwide and that number is expected to double to over $700 million within the next 20 years. The market value of shark fins stood at about $630 million, however, that number has already declined and continues to do so.
The loss of sharks would be detrimental to our oceanic ecosystem, which is why it is so important that Rhode Island help put an end to the shark fin trade. Currently, there is a house bill to ban the sale, trade, and possession of shark fins in Rhode Island. If you would like to help support the end of the shark fin trade, copy this petition and send it to your representative.