There are very few places in the world that are openly against saving the sharks. There are a few places that are openly against regulations that would limit the methods in which sharks could be caught. Two countries that feel that shark finning is a necessity are China and Japan.
Both China and Japan have been eating shark fin soup for hundreds of years. The trend started in China during the Ming Dynasty (Elmore 1). Not only is this dish considered a delicacy but it is also viewed as a status symbol. Even with the current restrictions, or maybe because of the restrictions, shark fins sell for hundreds of dollars a pound. There are arguments that if the fishing of sharks is more tightly regulated this price will only go up, leading to an increase of illegal fishing and a black market for the fins. Shark fin soup is a cultural problem for sharks in a very small part of the world. Worldwide the main problem are the possible medical uses for sharks. The most commonly used part of the shark that is used in medical treatments is their cartilage (Cunningham-Day 3). Shark's cartilage is supposed to help with a number of things, from helping joint pain to male enhancement. Shark cartilage first started being used when it was discovered that sharks do not get cancer, and it was thought that by taking the shark cartilage it was possible to be protected from cancer. Once again it is in Japan where the belief that shark cartilage can help make a person more potent in bed originates. This is primarily a cultural belief, that by taking something from such a powerful creatures, it is possible to gain some of that power. We have all heard someone say "Sharks are scary." This is a common response that is heard when talking to someone about sharks. Sharks have a reputation, deserved or not, for being man eaters. There have been reports in the news recently of people dying from shark attacks.
Continued next Monday.