If you have not yet heard of the staggering statistics behind the shark fin trade, prepare to be shocked! Some species of shark have suffered a 98 percent decline in their numbers over the past fifteen years, and over two hundred species are currently listed as endangered by the international Shark Foundation. Of the 100 million sharks killed by humans every year, an estimated 73 million of these are killed for their fins, to be sold as ingredients for shark fin soup. This soup has traditionally been regarded as a popular delicacy in China.
The cruel practice of shark finning is mostly unregulated. It involves the violent removal of a shark’s fins while the animal is fully conscious, and because the rest of the shark’s body is useless to fishermen, they are usually thrown back into the ocean still alive, to die a slow, agonizing death.
However, in a rare turn of good news last year, it was reported that shark fin sales in Guangzhou – the centre of the country’s shark fin trade – had declined by 82 percent over the previous two years. Philippine Airlines agreed to stop transporting shark fins in April 2014, dealing a significant blow to the shark fin industry.
The outlook for endangered sharks was made a little brighter last week, too, when United Parcel Service (UPS) finally decided that they would no longer ship shark fins! the company announced, via Twitter, “UPS has banned shark fin shipments following consultation with WWF (World Wildlife Fund),” prompting a deluge of congratulatory responses from animal lovers around the globe.
Alex Hofford, a conservationist and photographer for WildAid, who has for years been urging airlines and shipping companies to abandon the practice of shark fin transportation, said, “UPS has just proved to the world that just because something is legal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is either moral, ethical or sustainable. UPS’ blanket ban on fin shipments will put a very large dent into the trade.”
All eyes have now turned to FedEx. As one of the largest shipping companies in the world, which has yet to clarify its position on the transportation of shark fins, FedEx is continuing to facilitate the gradual, systematic extinction of species such as the oceanic whitecap, porbeagle, and hammerhead sharks.
A Care2 petition has just been launched, encouraging them to end this practice NOW. Chris Madderford, author of the petition, said, “FedEx does and will ship shark fins, as long as they are packaged properly and won’t spoil. This is their policy for anything being shipped for ‘human consumption.’ The shark fin trade has been dealt a blow recently by UPS who publicly announced that they will no longer be shipping shark fins, a great win for sharks. Now is the time to prevent another huge transporter, FedEx, from picking up where UPS left off.”
At the time of writing, Madderford’s petition has garnered 160, 153 signatures. Will FedEx listen to this heartfelt appeal, and take action to save endangered sharks? Only time will tell. You can make sure that your voice is heard by signing the petition today.
Lead image source: Care2