Americans who eat shark fn soup, aluxury dish costing up to $100 abowl in the United States, mightunknowingly be consuming anendangered species. According toan unprecedented scientifc analysis byStony Brook University and the Field Museumin Chicago, the shark fn soup served in 14 U.S.cities contains at-risk species, including scallopedhammerhead, which is listed by the internationalUnion or Conservation o Nature (IUCN) asendangered globally.
In addition to the scalloped hammerhead, the team ound 32samples containing shark, including smooth hammerhead,school, and spiny dogfsh sharks, which are all listed asvulnerable to extinction; and near-threatened species such asbull and copper sharks.The samples werecollected with thehelp o a group o shark attack survivorsand other volunteersacross the country.Samples were shippedto the laboratory o Dr. Demian Chapmanat the Institute orOcean ConservationScience at Stony BrookUniversity in New York.
Protecting the World’s Sharks
As is the case with many o the world’s top land predators—the great cats, bears, and wolves—the world’s sharks aremisunderstood. The survival o sharks, despite their earsomereputation, is in doubt because o the threat rom humans.In general, sharks grow slowly, mature late, and produceew young over long lietimes, leaving them exceptionallyvulnerable to overexploitation and slow to recover romdepletion. Because sharks are apex predators, they help keepthe populations o marine lie in check. Their absence posessignifcant risks or the health o entire ocean ecosystems. Thediscovery o smooth and scalloped hammerhead fns in theshark fn soup samples tested is o particular concern, giventhat these sharks are considered threatened with extinction.Despite the threatened status o these species, there areno international restrictions on the trade o these sharks andtheir fns and only a handul o protections at the nationaland regional levels. In May 2012, Honduras and CostaRica announced plans to submit a proposalto list hammerhead shark specisor protection on Appendix II o the Convention on InternationalTrade in Endangered Species o Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES). This listing would prevent the tradein hammerhead sharks unless it could bedetermined that such trade would not bedetrimental to the survival o the speciesin the wild.The new DNA analysis used in this study providesa method or law enorcement personnel to identiy thespecies o origin rom processed shark fn products, such asshark fn soup, thus oering a tool or enorcing CITES listings.
Endangered Shark Found in U.S. Soup Samples
Truth about shark fn soup is hard to swallow
“The DNA testingagain confrms thata wide variety o sharks are beingkilled or the fntrade, includingseriously threatenedspecies.”
Dr. Demian Chapman,leader o the DNA testingat the Institute or OceanConservation Science.
Up to 73 million sharks are killed every year, primarily tosupport the global shark fn industry and to make shark fn soup, which is a delicacy in some Asian cultures.
For more inormation about the shark fn soup study andthe Pew Environment Group’s Global Shark ConservationCampaign, visit www.PewEnvironment.org/Sharks.