Emperors of the Deep-The Shark
The current crisis should give us pause to consider how our society functions and consider making structural changes for the better. While the pandemic rages, there are some disturbing events taking place damaging the ocean. The most important news this month is that Hong Kong customs officials made their largest shark fin seizure, confiscating 26 tons inside a pair of shipping containers from South America. The fins represent the lives of 38,500 endangered sharks, the bulk of which came from thresher and silky sharks – both protected species. This seizure smashed the previous record of 13 tons recovered in 2019. The reason for the jump in fins? Traders are seeing a chance to ship shark fins while government officials are preoccupied with efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
As I discuss in my book, Emperors of the Deep- The Shark, sharks play a crucial role in the preservation of the ocean environment. As apex predators, they make sure that no one species monopolizes resources in the ocean environment. Whenever sharks have been removed, whether from coral reefs or seagrass systems, the environment suffers. Sharks help prevent disease in the oceans by maintaining the health of coral reefs and seagrass beds. If one ever doubts this wisdom, all one must do is see what happened when the wolves in Yellowstone were removed and the subsequent havoc wreaked on the system.
My book goes on to explain that the current rules and regulations are inadequate to protect the oceans and stop over-exploitation of not just sharks but bluefin tuna, swordfish and other important fish. Now is the time to re-examine our world during the pandemic and take a look at making necessary rules and regulations changes.
Yet sharks are still massacred at the rate of 100 million per year. The Chinese continue to have complete disregard for conservation measures and consume shark fin soup as noted with this seizure. And the world suffers as a result of their actions. Society must learn from the current crisis. We are all interconnected, and one nation cannot be allowed to do whatever they please. If we do not take appropriate conservation measures, and apex predators like sharks are killed, we allow the door to swing open for more disease and disruption that will ultimately affect mankind’s survival. The United States is a leader in the world, and the time has come to do just that, lead and make our world safer from disease both above and below the ocean surface.