There has been some great news for animals coming out of India lately. The country recently banned animal testing for cosmetics products, and banned shows featuring captive dolphins and orcas. India declared that the animals should be considered “non-human persons.”
Now comes good news for the dolphins’ fellow ocean-dwellers, sharks. India has banned shark finning! According to CBC News, the country’s ban comes as fishing of sharks has increased due to demand for their fins to be exported to China, mainly for the delicacy shark fin soup. While many of the sharks are caught for food, the fishing of sharks has increased to export fins. India’s Environment Ministry has declared that shark catches found with fins removed could now bring a sentence of up to tens years in prison.
Finning involves hauling sharks onboard ships, slicing off their fins, and often throwing them back into the water to slowly die. The practice has long been considered both cruel and unsustainable by experts, conservationists, and animal advocates.
The Ministry hopes that the ban will help to protect several endangered species of sharks including hammerhead and whale sharks. The wildlife trade monitoring network,TRAFFIC, reports that India is the second-largest catcher of sharks after Indonesia, adding that the two countries accounted for “over 20% of global catches between 2002 and 2011.”
Global bans of shark finning and shark fin trading continue to be implemented, but will they happen quickly enough to allow shark populations to recover from our continuing assaults? Slow to reach sexual maturity and producing few offspring, sharks are particularly vulnerable to extinction, but we continue to kill them by the millions and millions each year. As apex predators maintaining the balance of ocean ecosystems for hundreds of millions of years, we need them around.