HK shark fin trader's remarks couldn't be further from reality

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 December, 2010, 12:00am

I was disheartened to read comments from the anonymous trader ('Shark fin trader rails at Western attitudes towards 'food culture'', December 10) who said we should forget 'about environmental protection. The sea is full of sharks'.

As an avid scuba diver, I am curious to know where he has been swimming and diving to witness such abundance? Having travelled to many seemingly pristine and remote dive locations in, for example, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, my dive buddies and I are left repeatedly disappointed, as local fisherman and divers say, 'We used to see a lot of sharks here, not any more'. Even in areas deemed a marine sanctuary, witnessing a shark in its natural habitat has become a rare privilege.

The trader claims it is equally cruel to kill cows as it is sharks. His argument fails on two counts. For one, cows are not slaughtered only for their 'ears' with the remainder of the carcass thrown away. Shark-finning is cruel and shamefully wasteful.

Secondly, cows can be farmed, bred and slaughtered in a controlled, sustainable environment. Sharks, on the other hand, are taken from a fluid environment that is virtually immeasurable from the surface. At what point do those who take from the ocean - a body of water shared by all and impossible to police - know when they have culled one shark too many and tipped the entire balance of our marine ecosystem?

At this point in evolution, with a global population exceeding six billion and when everything on this planet is to be considered a finite resource, the so-called need to consume and trade shark fins is unfathomable.

I would like to extend a free PADI open water scuba course to the man who made such ignorant remarks. Perhaps with an opportunity to witness the damaging effect of his trade on our oceans, he will realise that those of us opposed to the consumption of shark's fin soup want fairness to all mankind.

Rochelle Lewis, Sai Ying Pun