by carlythrasher on November 25, 2016 - 5:34pm
“Duunn duunn…duuuuuun duunn… dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun “
We have all experienced the sinking feeling hearing the two notes that have made us scared of swimming pools, oceans and lakes. The 1975 blockbuster Jaws spiked the worldwide irrational fear and hatred towards sharks. Since then, multiple films and TV shows have amplified such fear, making sharks vulnerable and targeted for commercial fishing. The radio clip by CBC’s Matt Galloway describes this spike in commercial fishing, specifically drawing in on the shark fin trade and its inhumane tactics.
The Chinese delicacy known as “Shark Fin Soup” has been responsible for the drastic decline of shark populations in the last couple decades. Fishermen remove the dorsal, pectoral and caudal fins while the shark is still alive, and toss the remaining body into the water to drown. In Galloway’s radio clip, he discusses a new bill that is being proposed to Canada’s government to overturn the selling, buying and overall use of shark fins in Canada. Galloway discusses such practices with one of Toronto’s MP’s Nathanial Erskine-Smith, who will be proposing the act to the House of Commons in 2016. Erskine’s plan is to propose a Modernizing Protection Animal Act that would ban all importation of shark fins and overall strengthening animal protection provisions. The primary conflict Erskine faces is the political will that the federal government lacks, as previous shark fin bans have been overturned by superior courts. In 2011, Toronto banned the sale and use of shark fins, but was later overturned by superior courts in 2012. Erskine discusses that banning shark fins starts with the federal government, as smaller municipal groups fail to have their voices heard. Erskine also discusses that many Chinese Canadians do not support the practice of shark finning, stating “Chinese Canadians themselves have called for a shark fin ban in our cities”.
Failed resource management on a state level, mixed with social lack of empathy for marine ecosystems, has resulted in various marine species to be hunted to extinction. Erskine takes an anti-rationalism point of view, stating that shark finning can be used for cultural reasons, but we should aim to reduce shark threats for future generations in more humane ways. He discusses that a number of countries have adopted landed shark requirements, meaning that the whole shark body must be taken to land so the body is not wasted. I highly encourage this user-controlled fishery, as it uses humane techniques reducing the amount of overfishing, while lowering the suffering and misery sharks endure. Administrative practices must be proposed with a top down approach, regulating bans at a governmental level that will monitor trade and fishing on international waters. It is evident that current government policies indirectly encourage shark-finning techniques, as they would rather please the small population of shark fin consumers. I believe that Canada’s, as well as other country’s governments, should focus on consumer behavior using substantive policy instruments. This would involve changing the way consumers and overall populations look at sharks. Incentives to encourage a change in behavior, as well as public outreach, will result in change at a consumer level that will deter consumers away from the Shark Fin Trade.