Quantcast
Animals
Scalloped hammerhead shark. Kevin Lino / NOAA / Flickr

Sharks: Last on Trump’s List, First on His Plate

On his trip to Asia, President Trump ate shark fin soup in Vietnam. While this meal is considered a status symbol, delicacy and a sign of wealth in Asian culture (it can sell for over $100 a serving in restaurants), the continued consumption of shark fin soup has a devastating effect on shark populations around the world.

Shark fin soup is believed by some to have medicinal healing properties and its proponents view its consumption as a cultural right. Sharks rely heavily on international and regional treaties for protections and management measures, and in some countries domestic regulations have been adopted.


Sharks are amazing ocean predators, and they're some of the most powerful creatures in the sea. But 25 percent of shark species are currently listed as endangered, threatened or near threatened by extinction. Because sharks are generally slow to reproduce, the constant onslaught of threats that include shark finning, bycatch and threats to the ocean ecosystem are causing a severe decline in populations that are already hard to monitor.

While it is impossible to know how many sharks are killed yearly due to illegal and unrecorded catch, it is estimated that up to 73 million sharks are killed annually by "finning" alone—a brutal practice that involves cutting off a shark's fins, usually while it is still alive, and throwing the body back overboard where it bleeds to death, drowns or is eaten. This is clearly a cruel practice, and the fact that millions of sharks are being killed is also a main issue for wildlife conservation.

The U.S., overall a low market for shark fin soup compared to countries in Asia, still has some ways to go before it is completely removed from the shark fin trade. Especially when the president dines on shark fin soup and previously served it at his failed Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In response to someone saying they would not visit the restaurant until shark fin soup was removed from the menu, Trump tweeted:

In 2000, the Shark Finning Prohibition Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It banned the possession on U.S. ships of shark fins without the carcass and made it illegal to partake in shark finning within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.

In 2007, after five years of working with Mexico's government, Defenders of Wildlife helped pass legislation that outlawed shark finning in Mexico's waters.

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Shark Conservation Act of 2010, which forbade the purchase of shark fins from other vessels, to close a loophole in the Shark Finning Prohibition Act.

In 2011, Defenders of Wildlife, along with a coalition of 12 other environmental organizations, began a campaign to pass a law banning the possession, trade, sale and distribution of shark fins in California. As a result of these efforts, on Oct. 7, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB376 into law.

In June 2016, Congress introduced the bipartisan Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. The bill would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the U.S. altogether and impose fines of up to $100,000 for participating in the shark fin trade.

Just last month at the Conference of the Parties to the Conference of Migratory Species of Wild Animals in Manila, Philippines, Defenders of Wildlife successfully advocated for six species of sharks to gain international collaboration for conservation—the whale shark, dusky shark, blue shark, angelshark, guitarfish and white spotted wedgefish. This week, Defenders of Wildlife is at the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas in Marrakesh, Morocco, where we are advocating for fins attached to sharks as well as promoting prohibition of retention measures for mako sharks that are severely overfished.

In order to stop shark finning, we must work to reduce the demand for the fins—which means publicly denouncing the practice and showing support for conservation efforts. Former NBA star Yao Ming has led the charge to gain visibility for this issue along with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jackie Chan, Rosario Dawson, Edward Norton, James Cameron, Richard Branson and Jackson Browne. Chefs Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Gordon Ramsey and others have pledged never to serve shark fin soup in their restaurants.

And yet President Trump imprudently, obtusely and very publicly dines on a dish causing appalling harm to our already fragile ocean ecosystem.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Right: magpiessoftserve / Instagram Left: veganrobs / Instagram

11 Vegan Food Trends to Watch in 2018

By Danny Prater

New dairy-free favorites, surprising protein sources and automated everything: We've prepped a list of 2019's biggest food trends—all vegan, of course. Like you, millions of people are more curious than ever before about the latest developments in the vegan culinary world. Below, you can check out the newest, fanciest vegan foods and the hottest trends that will help you reduce your environmental footprint, improve your personal health and spare hundreds of animals a violent death in the coming year.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

New York Gov. Proposes State Legalize Recreational Marijuana

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he will push to fully legalize recreational marijuana in the state as part of his agenda for the next year.

"The fact is we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well off, and one for everyone else," Cuomo said in a speech about his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term, as quoted by The New York Times.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Circus elephants. Laura LaRose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

New Jersey Is First State to Ban Wild Animal Circus Acts

It is now illegal to use elephants, tigers and other wild and exotic animals in traveling animal acts in New Jersey, the first state to mandate such a move.

Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy signed "Nosey's Law," the namesake of a 36-year-old African elephant with crippling arthritis that was forced to travel around the country, including to the Garden State, for traveling circus acts and suffered abuse, according to a press release from the governor's office.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. WClarke / CC BY-SA 4.0

Major Investors Pressure Exxon to Set CO2 Reduction Targets

The world's largest oil company is being pressured by major shareholders to take action on climate change.

Institutional investors with an estimated $1.9 trillion under management, led by the New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF) and the Church Commissioners of England (CCE), filed a shareholder resolution calling on ExxonMobil to set targets for lowering its greenhouse gas emissions, covering emissions from both its operations and the use of its products.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Minimize plastic waste by wrapping gifts with reusable, recyclable and biodegradable materials. Westend61 / Getty Images

How to Have Yourself a Plastic-Free Christmas

By Manuela Taboada, Glenda Amayo Caldwell, Hope Johnson, Leonie Barner and Rowena Maguire

Research shows that waste can double during the Christmas period, and most of it is plastic from gift wrapping and packaging. The British, for example, go through more than 40 million rolls of (mostly plastic) sticky tape every year, and use enough wrapping paper to go around the Equator nine times.

We love plastic. It is an amazing material, so ubiquitous in our lives we barely notice it. Unfortunately, plastic waste has become a serious worldwide environmental and health issue. If we don't love the idea of a planet covered in plastic waste, we urgently need to reduce our plastic consumption.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Patrick Neufelder / Pixabay

2018: The Year Things Fell Apart — or the Year the Tide Turned?

By John R. Platt

This has been one hell of a tough year for the planet.

Just look at the past few weeks: The Trump administration tried to bury its own climate report, planned to eliminate sage-grouse protection on millions of acres of oil-rich land, allowed more pollution from coal plants, and then withdrew the Waters of the United States rule, threatening the entire Clean Water Act in the process.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Business
Swen Pförtner / Getty Images

Amazon Employees Praised for Using Shareholder Status to Demand Comprehensive Climate Plan

By Jessica Corbett

A small group of Amazon workers is receiving big praise for their efforts to force their employer to be a better steward of the planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
A container of Johnson's baby powder sits on a table. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson Knew About Asbestos in Baby Powder for Decades, Reuters Investigation Finds

By Jessica Corbett

A Reuters investigation published Friday charges that Johnson & Johnson, a multi-billion dollar company known for its healthcare products, knew for decades that its iconic talcum baby powder "was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos," but concealed the information from regulators and the public.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!