Sharks Needs Help

A limit is the greatest amount of something that can be achieved. We find limits almost everywhere.

Roads have speed limits. A loading limit is required on every ship to avoid the hazard of overloading. Even in Wall Street, bankers must adhere to their limit of risk management because when that limit is infringed, the whole financial system can crash. The same idea of limits should be applied to our natural resources too. However, how many of us have ever thought about the limit of our oceans? Scientists have a shocking estimate that the world’s oceans will be drained of fish by the year 2048 (DeNoon)! For centuries, humans have been finding the best techniques to collect as many fishes as possible into their nets. Overfishing has never been a concern until recently when this topic was raised by some groups of activists to the global forum.

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I agree with Danson that the sharks are among the most vulnerable species in this crisis. From my interview with Maggie, the owner of a Chinese restaurant, I understood that we can do much more than we think. I believe we can save these beautiful species in the oceans by consuming less shark fin soup. Effective and prompt measures have to be taken to protect the species. What makes the sharks so attractive to fishermen are their valuable fins.

In the Ming Dynasty 1368-1644), shark fin soup was a noble delicacy consumed by the emperor and his guests. In today’s Chinese culture, Shark fin soup gives the host and guests a sense of “being a part of the aristocracy” (Eilperin). That said, not only is shark fin soup a delicacy, it is the presentation of status in society. With China’s expanding middle class, more people can afford the once superior delicacy. Now shark fin soup has become a standard in Chinese banquets.

While demand is booming, the supply cannot support this level of exploitation. 73 million sharks are killed each year for the shark fin market, which is growing at a rate of 5 to 15 percent per year (Savers). The extent of the shark fining practice has evolved into an unprecedented level. Sadly, while demand is skyrocketing, fishermen have resorted to drastic measures like fining baby sharks. Sixty-five percent of the sharks are killed before they reach their reproductive maturity (Bush Warriors).

David, a graduate who studied ecology and conservation of sharks, expressed apprehensively, “Killing a fish before it can reproduce is a major sustainability no-no.” David’s point is that killing a creature before it can reproduce is a big threat to that species’ sustainability. With the current high demand for fins, the shark population is at a critically low level. Fishermen are desperate to hunt for the pricey fins. They look for sharks in the high seas, where the shark population is yet to be disturbed. Then, they fin whatever sharks that they can catch before dumping the case back into the sea to save storage space.

This process cannot go on forever. The government has to take the lead to protect our marine resources before it is too late. The government is responsible for educating its citizens about the marine crisis that we are facing. I agree with Danson’s idea that our society may have been overwhelmed by the abundance of seafood available in the restaurants and stores. It is so easy to drive a car to a restaurant and make an order for shark fin soup. We have the common perception that the supply of the ocean is always very stable, and it is never our concern that the dishes we enjoy will run out tomorrow.

When I grew up in Hong Kong, I was only told that the shark fin soup is a superior delicacy for its rarity. Frankly, I’m proud to have been born in the city that is famous for its seafood varieties. Nonetheless, it also puts me to shame that I didn’t even know the simple fact that the shark populations are threatened, until I came to America and read a book assigned to my English class.