From our Keiko Japan team member Tracie during her recent trip to Japan with our friends at Ric 'O Barry's Dolphin Project.
During my recent stay in Japan, I visited one of the largest tuna markets in the country. This market not only brokered tuna, it was also a hub for shark finning, fueled by the demand for fins in other Asian countries. Most mornings I visited, there were headless, finless carcasses of what looked to be thresher sharks amidst tuna and billfish that were being auctioned off. On a few of the days, huge amounts of headless blue shark carcasses would be lined up and some of the market men would come to fin them one by one, loading up a truck bed with fins. I counted over 100 blue sharks one of these days, and a similar amount another day. I had never seen shark finning first hand like that before, it was quite shocking. Additionally one of the last days I visited there were no sharks out in the market space, but at the dock one of the vessels was unloading hundreds of frozen fins from its stores into a truck… made me wonder if those sharks were finned alive and dumped at sea. ・ I just uploaded a video to my YouTube channel (below) with some of the footage I took here, discussing the issues surrounding this cruel practice. These sharks are apex predators that reproduce slowly and play a vital role in the ecosystem. Their populations have been hugely impacted by the impractically huge demand for fins, and they are struggling to recover. What can we do to stop shark finning? It is a huge issue and not something that will end overnight. For one, don’t eat sharks or shark fin soup. If you come across any restaurants with shark on the menu, ask them to take It off. Donate your time and money to dedicated organizations such as the ones tagged in the photo. Become an ambassador for sharks and help spread the word: don’t fear sharks, fear FOR them!