India is the second-largest shark-catching nation in the world, according to a study by the European Commission. Indian fishermen target and catch sharks primarily for their meat, reports the Times of India. However, they do export fins from sharks they catch. Additionally, fishermen on foreign vessels in or just outside of Indian waters engage in the cruel practice of shark finning unabated.
This week marks International Shark Week, and Uma Rani, the secretary for the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) chose this as the time to draw the attention of governmental authorities to the fact that shark finning involves mutilation of an animal.
Rani also stated she believes that the act of finning is a violation and punishable offense under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.
The practice of shark finning is driven by the shark fin trade, largely for its role in providing the key ingredient in the lucrative, popular traditional Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup, which is claimed to increase appetite, have various health benefits, and believed to be an aphrodisiac. Shark fin soup sells for up to $100 a bowl in the United States.
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The commercial lure for thi shark fin delicacy at various seafood restaurants around the world is proving to be very cruel and deadly for sharks, Rani emphasizes.“Big fishing trawlers are only hunting for sharks to cut away their fins and then throw them back into the sea to meet an agonizing death,” she emphasizes.
A report on the brutal practice of shark finning last year was done by Animal Planet, showing how a shark is caught, pulled onboard a boat, its fins are cut off and the still-living creature is tossed back overboard to drown or bleed to death.
Rani states that she hopes the Central Government will follow the lead of the AWBI and enact a policy that forces sharks to have their fins remain “naturally attached.”
She points out that the fins from tens of millions of sharks are used to supply worldwide demand for shark fins and fin products each year. Unlike other fish species, sharks produce few pups, and thus, many species are endangered and/or threatened due to the fin trade.
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AWBI is a statutory body under India's Ministry of Environment and Forests concerned with raising awareness about the inhumane treatment of animals as well as protecting animals from unnecessary pain and suffering.
In light of the advisory, Humane Society International/India, in collaboration with the Association of Deep Sea Going Artisanal Fishermen, renewed an appeal to the Ministry to consider adopting a shark fins” naturally attached” policy—in other words, enact a ban on shark finning.’’
Sources: Times of India