Adventure Journal posted an image so good I had to share it in my own blog. While the stats are staggering, this is not new information for me. However, the comments from readers were rather interesting. In particular, comparing the numbers of farmed animals that humans kill each year for food to the number of sharks killed each year helped me reach some fundamental conclusions about why that comparison is so wrong.
Number one, and most importantly, sharks are keystone predators. This means their role is to eat other animals, in essence thinning out the herds and keeping the gene pools strong. Since they eat other animals, by nature’s brilliant design, they do not reproduce at the level that animals further down the food chain do. Thus, it is even more catastrophic to slaughter these animals at the level that we do. In case that didn’t make sense, this is bad for two reasons: We’re removing the animals that keep the ocean healthy and doing it at a rate these particular animals can’t bounce back from.
Number two. For the most part, only the fins are being used while the rest of the shark is discarded. Therefore no argument can be made that the killing of so many sharks helps solve the world’s hunger problems. Here’s how it works; Fins go for 20 - 250 times more per pound than the rest of the shark, therefore if your fleet of boats returns packed with fins instead of the rest of the shark, you have that much more valuable of a cargo load.
Number three. There are 7.5 billion of us and counting. When are we going to stop acting like 7 deaths is a tragedy, particularly when the biggest threat to our future existence is our own population problem?