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Grotesque Images Illustrate the Need to End the Shark Fin Trade

Grotesque Images Illustrate the Need to End the Shark Fin Trade

Photojournalist Alex Hofford captured heartbreaking images of thousands of shark fins laid out to dry on the rooftop of a factory building in Hong Kong that illustrate the need to ramp up global conservation efforts and ban shark finning altogether before shark populations are completely decimated.

The brutal and wasteful practice of shark finning involves removing fins after sharks have been caught and tossing their bodies back overboard – often while they’re still alive – in order to save space. This practice can also make it hard for shark species to be identified, which impedes population counts and subsequent management decisions.

According to Oceana:

Of the 307 shark species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 50 are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered, but only the white, whale and basking sharks are protected internationally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Sharks now represent the greatest percentage of threatened marine species on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

Clearly we should be more afraid for them and their survival than we ever should have been of them.

On his blog, Hofford writes that traders have moved from sidewalks to rooftops in order to avoid further backlash from the public. “I’m now of the opinion that this place has been operating for a very long time, and it’s only in the last three days that their activities have come to light.”

Photos were taken on the roof of Kwong Ga Factory Building, 64 Victoria Road, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong.

“It’s a slick operation. Straight off the boat and into the warehouse. A minimal journey time on land. Once the fins arrive onto the wharf by sea, it’s a quick and easy journey through the gates of ‘China Merchants Wharf’ (a private, not Marine Department, wharf by the way), and into the warehouse literally across the road,” writes Hofford.

It’s estimated that more than half of the world’s trade in shark fins goes directly through Hong Kong with the top exporters being Spain, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and United Arab Emirates, according to Oceana, which estimates that between 26 and 73 million sharks are killed each year solely for their fins.

Over the past few years, many countries have banned shark finning while others have made efforts to ban the sale, trade and possession of shark fins. Most recently, the European Union approved a strict ban on shark finning, which closed a loophole in its existing law and will now require sharks caught in EU waters or in international waters by EU vessels to be landed with their fins attached.

“I feel disgusted with humanity. These shark fins belong in the ocean, not the rooftop of an industrial building,” writes Hofford.

To see more, visit Alex Hofford’s blog.


Related Stories:

Loss of Top Predators is “Humankind’s Most Pervasive Influence on Nature”

Eu Eliminates ‘Special Permits’ for Shark Finning

Success! Costa Rica Bans Shark Finning


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All photos: Alex Hofford

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6:26AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014


7:49AM PDT on Apr 4, 2013

Disgusting. Imagine that those are human hands on the roof!!!! will anyone eat them? Only chinese will eat such inhumane stuff, whatever that moves or runs. Why don't they cut a piece their own access fat and cook to eat, after all, it's extra on their body and they don't worry about their outlook!!! That's why I ban everything from china and have no interest visiting any Chinese places.

12:11AM PST on Feb 16, 2013

I try so hard not to be a horrid person but I can't. The chinese will grab anything that they can get hold of no matter what. When I first came across the dogs, cats and other fur animals, that was it for me and I vowed that I would never look at the chinese in the same light. I always remember a photo of a dog that was skinned alive and I cried so much that I thought my heart would break. I wish that I could figure out who were the good and who were the bad chinese because I don't like to think that I was condemning them all, but that's not possible and I know it.

6:29AM PST on Jan 26, 2013

very sad but thanks for sharing

3:34PM PST on Jan 22, 2013


7:12PM PST on Jan 17, 2013

They are modern ASIAN nations, these nations as a whole do not have empathy, compassion, conscience, culture, in fact no values left whatsoever besides greed and immoral, criminal behavior.

7:35AM PST on Jan 16, 2013

sickening! I do not understand how people can carry out such acts of torture! Do they not have empathy, compassion, or conscience?

10:17AM PST on Jan 15, 2013

Shame shame!! Poor animals, sick bastards who demand this!

12:14AM PST on Jan 13, 2013

“I feel disgusted with humanity. These shark fins belong in the ocean, not the rooftop of an industrial building,” Hofford nails it right here. This makes me so angry and hopefully it is the tipping point for real change to occur for sharks. If not, my hope in humanity will be diminished severely.

4:33PM PST on Jan 11, 2013

I might also add that these people are sick in the head.

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