Shark fin bans appearing in Asia

Shark fins are back in the news. In October, a bill banning the sale or distribution of shark fin was signed in California. The hope of the bill is that a reduced use of shark fin would lead to the reduction of finning, which is when the fin is cut off the shark and the shark is release back to the ocean. The wild shark population is becoming an environmental issue. The ban begins on January 1, 2013. Shark fins currently in the state can be sold or possessed until July 1, 2013.

Recently, The Peninsula Hotels announced a ban on shark fins in all hotels starting on January 1, 2012. The Peninsula Hotels are located mostly in Asia (including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Tokyo). The announcement states that shark fin soup will still be served at events booked before the announcement and occurring after January 1, 2012 will still be accommodated.

The latest news is about a shark fin ban in Taiwan. The news was reported through videos from Reuters and Al Jazeera. The video from Al Jazeera is below. The images of shark finning can be disturbing.

The shark fin ban in Taiwan is reported to start in 2012. However, it is not an all-encompassing ban. The rule is that the sharks must be at port, not just the fins. I suppose a better description is that boats that practice finning will not be able to sell their catch at the docks in Taiwan. Only whole sharks will be allowed.

Unfortunately all these regulations are skirting the issue of regulating the amount of sharks that each boat is allowed to catch. The problem is a dwindling shark population, not the type of catch allowed in countries. I think limits should be set on the number and types of sharks allowed. Otherwise, there may need to be an all-out ban on catching sharks. We need sustainable fishing practices to save creatures in the ocean while providing nourishment.

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