Monday, October 16, 2006

Fisheries: Sharks in the soup

Following the revelation in last weeks post "Fisheries: Dolphin friendly tuna - don't believe it." where it was revealed that tuna fishing had accounted for the killing of 450,000 sharks comes today's news that "38 Million Sharks Killed for Fins Annually, Experts Estimate." Now that is a lot of shark fin soup. All-in-all it appears that it is not a good time to be a shark.

Some choice quotes:
Some chicken stock, a few mushrooms, chicken breast, scallions, a little sherry, oil, spices—shark fin soup is fairly easy to prepare. But to make soup for six, you'll also need about a pound (half a kilogram) of shark fin meat.

Demand for that crucial ingredient has led to the killing of a median of about 38 million sharks a year, according to a new study that offers what may be the first reliable estimates of the number of sharks killed for their fins.

Murdoch and his colleagues' new, mathematical estimating method uses trade records from commercial markets and genetic techniques to identify species.

In their effort to accurately estimate the number of fins harvested—and therefore the number of sharks killed—the scientists conducted interviews with traders and studied almost 400 fin samples.

In the end the researchers concluded that from 1996 to 2000 26 to 73 million sharks were traded yearly. The annual median for the period was 38 million—nearly four times the UN estimates but considerably lower than those of many conservationists.

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