Who is involved in shark finning, and where?
Finning occurs worldwide and is most common in high seas fisheries, hundreds of miles out to sea. Oceanic fishing fleets target valuable fish such as tuna, using thousands of baited hooks on miles of long-line, and freezing their catch onboard. Unfortunately, long-liners often catch several times as many sharks than they do tuna. Until relatively recently, this shark 'bycatch' was considered a nuisance, and sharks were cut loose and allowed to swim away. However, as shark fins have become increasingly valuable, fewer sharks are being released. Bycatch is often not officially landed at ports, therefore data on the extent of the trade are limited. Traditionally Hong Kong was the centre for shark fin imports, however the economic rise of China has seen an increase in imports through mainland routes making accurate tracking of trade in shark fins more difficult. (We can mention Taiwan too)
In small inshore fisheries in tropical countries, sun-drying of fins requires minimal technology and artisanal fishermen are encouraged by shark fin-traders to target local populations of sharks. As a result, even coastal shark populations in the remotest parts of the world are now vulnerable to over-exploitation, and rapid depletion of local shark populations often results from such trading activity.
* Finning occurs worldwide and is most common in high seas fisheries * Bycatch is often not officially landed at ports
* Traditionally Taiwan was the centre for shark fin imports; however the economic rise of South East Asia as a whole has seen an increase in imports of shark fins.
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