Shark Deaths Throwing Off Ocean Balance
An ocean devoid of life is a difficult concept to digest, but we are heading in that direction. We are currently deconstructing the foundation of the intricately balanced web that supports all marine life. From microscopic plankton to the largest blue whale, they all depend upon the continuation of a mathematical equation, a system of checks and balances that insure the survival of each species.
If there is even a minor quantity change in any member species, it upsets the universal balance. A species removed from the system results in an accumulation of their food source and starvation of their predators. This event then effects the next species predator/prey and so on.
So what happens when an entire super-order of fish, is removed from the oceans on a global scale? This is happening now. According to a recent Pew Foundation study, sharks are being removed from the ocean at a rate of about 100,000,000 annually. This is unsustainable for sharks and is having a decimating effect on the world’s fisheries and the health of all marine ecosystems. When an apex predator is removed from a community, sick animals are left to spread disease, the food source of the prey species cannot support the newly expanded population. When the food disappears, the consumers starve to death.
Exact estimates conflict, but all studies agree that human are heavily dependent upon the oceans for their food. The Pew Foundation also reports that over 80% of large ocean mega-fauna has disappeared in the last twenty years. If this trend continues, we will be facing an escalating amount of human starvation at a time when our oceans may not be able to recover.
Right now there is a pivotal bill in the California Senate that would ban shark fins from the entire state. Currently sharks are being finned primarily for the value of their fins which are then used in a soup symbolizing celebration and success. This bill will not only help by preventing interstate fin sales, but it will influence the entire market thought the Americas because California is the port of choice for the fin trade. Forcing finners to use other ports will make this wasteful practice much less profitable and therefore less appealing. Please join us in promoting this legislation, by signing our petition, and or helping us spread the word about this August 15th vote.
Photo Credit: Willy Volk