01/02/2011 - Large, oceangoing commercial fish like tuna and swordfish have been in steady decline for years, victims of poor regulation and rapacious overfishing by big industrial fleets. But one relentlessly hunted fish — sharks — may finally be catching a break.
Each year, commercial and recreational fishing kills more than 100 million sharks globally (the number of humans killed by sharks in 2008: four). Of these, an estimated 73 million are slaughtered solely for their fins to provide the shark fin soup that is so popular in Asia. The fins are sliced off and the sharks dumped back in the water; unable to swim, they sink to the bottom and die.
A 2000 law banned finning off the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. Last month, Congress approved a bill prohibiting shark finning in all United States waters. It requires boats to bring sharks to port with the fins attached. This limits each vessel’s catch, since a whole shark takes up a lot more room than the fins alone.
Read the editorial Endangered Predator in its entirety on The New York Times' Web site.