This article details a recent study about shark fin soup. In my opinion, shark finning has to be the most wasteful and inhumane practice in the world that is still legal in some countries/waters. The video at the bottom of the article gives a quick overview of the shark finning industry. An estimated 73 million sharks are killed per year just for their fins. The sharks are caught, de-finned, and thrown back into the ocean. Many sharks are alive for this entire process and end up drowning because they can no longer swim. A WWF spokesperson said the best way to help the sharks is by people participating in a voluntary ban on shark fin soup. Government regulations may help, but they will probably just lead to a black market shark fin trade. This is the same supply-demand concept that is crucial to stopping other species endangerment problems, such as the ivory trade. Many celebrities have spoken out against shark fin soup consumption with the hopes of educating and dissuading other people from eating it. Notable celebrities include Yao Ming, Leonardo diCaprio, and Edward Norton.
Besides highlighting the inhumanity of shark finning, the article elaborates on shark fin soup DNA testing. Researchers tested samples of shark fin soup from major cities across America. The soups were found to contain DNA from “eight different species of sharks under environmental protection – including the Scalloped Hammerhead shark, which is on the endangered species list.” According to Wikipedia, shark finning has been illegal in American waters since 2000. President Obama also signed the Shark Conservation Act in 2011, which “prohibits any boat to carry shark fins without the corresponding number and weight of carcasses, and all sharks must be brought to port with their fins attached.” (I think having the whole shark helps weigh down the boats, thereby limiting how many sharks can be caught and brought to port.) Even with all this legislation, it is still legal to consume shark fin soup in many states. Shark fin soup is currently only banned in five U.S. States (Illinois, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington). However, many states are taking action, and New York is close to becoming the sixth state to enact a ban.