News / USA

Genetic Analyses Show Endangered Species in Shark Fin Soup

Genetic Analyses Show Endangered Species in Shark Fin Soupi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Zulima Palacio
August 15, 2012 7:56 PM
Each year, fishermen catch millions of sharks, cut off their fins, and dump the bodies into the ocean to die. The fins are used to make shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy sold in many countries. Recently, a team of scientists and environmental groups collected soup from restaurants across the United States and analyzed the soups' genetic make-up. They found endangered species on the menu. VOA's Zulima Palacio has details.
Zulima Palacio
Each year, fishermen catch millions of sharks, cut off their fins, and dump the bodies into the ocean to die. The fins are used to make shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy sold in many countries. Recently, a team of scientists and environmental groups collected soup from restaurants across the United States and analyzed the soups' genetic make-up. They found endangered species on the menu. 

More than 73 million sharks are killed every year, mostly for their fins, to make shark fin soup, industry experts and conservationists say. Shark fin soup is a common offering in many Asian restaurants around the world.

A bowl of shark fin soup is being served at a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown, California, February 14, 2011.A bowl of shark fin soup is being served at a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown, California, February 14, 2011.
x
A bowl of shark fin soup is being served at a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown, California, February 14, 2011.
A bowl of shark fin soup is being served at a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown, California, February 14, 2011.
The Field Museum in Chicago and the Pew Environment Group looked at 51 soup samples in 14 U.S. cities. DNA analyses identified eight shark species, some of them endangered.
 
“The major finding is that there are endangered species in shark fin soup sold in the United States.  One sample taken from Boston had scalloped hammerhead," said Liz Karan, who heads the global shark conservation campaign at the Pew Environment Group.  "Scalloped hammerhead is considered endangered by the International Union of Conservation’s red list of endangered species.”

Shark finning - cutting off the fins while the shark is still alive and throwing the body overboard - is banned in the United States. But shark fishing and the import of fins are allowed.  So far, only five U.S. states have banned shark fin products.

“Overfishing of sharks is a global problem.  Hong Kong is currently the hub of the shark fin trade, and there are about 80 countries that contribute to that trade,” said Karan.

Workers cut off fins from frozen carcasses of a sharks at a fish processing plant in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, November 15, 2011.Workers cut off fins from frozen carcasses of a sharks at a fish processing plant in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, November 15, 2011.
x
Workers cut off fins from frozen carcasses of a sharks at a fish processing plant in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, November 15, 2011.
Workers cut off fins from frozen carcasses of a sharks at a fish processing plant in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, November 15, 2011.
Over the last 60  years, the world's shark population has plummetted by nearly 80 percent, according to a study by the Pew Environment Group. The group believes sanctuaries for sharks could help them.  

“They have a very long life span and often don’t reach sexual maturity until their teens or 20s and, when they do reproduce, some species only have a couple of pups at the time. So their ability to repopulate and recover from overfishing pressures is very small,” said Karan.

The Humane Society International leads one of the largest campaigns to protect sharks. Iris Ho is the wildlife campaigns manager.

“Over 90 percent of the world’s shark fin consumption takes place in China, and Hong Kong alone handles about 50 percent of the global trade in shark fins,” she said.

The Chinese government has announced it will stop serving shark fin soup at official functions. Ho says outside of Asia, the U.S. is the largest market.
 
”According to government records, in 2010, 34 metric tons of shark fins were imported to the U.S.,” she said.  

Sharks have been around for 400 million years, pre-dating the dinosaurs.  But scientists believe they may be unable to survive this ongoing assault.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope Condemns IS 'Persecution' of Minorities

Pope delivers annual 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the city and the world) blessing, appeals for end to conflicts in Africa, dialogue in Middle East, condemns Taliban attack in Pakistan More

China Reduces Number of Crimes Punishable by Death

Earlier this year China announced plans to remove nine crimes from the list of capital offenses, including counterfeiting, fraudulent fund-raising and forcing others into prostitution More

Analysis: For N. Koreans, Parody Has Grave Tone

Most North Koreans who might see 'The Interview' would be horribly offended, outraged, and confused More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid