Living in Hong Kong, I’ve been dealing with the shark fin issue for as long as I can remember, long before joining Sea Shepherd. I’ve walked through blood-soaked markets and clambered over rickety rooftops around South East Asia in a quest to uncover, expose and better understand the evil trade. Hong Kong is at the epicenter of the global trade in shark fins and many other “delicacies of the sea.”
A comment I’m hearing more and more often nowadays on social media forums from ignorant and racist people is, “Those bloody Japanese/Chinese are killing the oceans. There’ll be nothing left for future generations!” Well this certainly isn’t the case - we are ALL killing the oceans, and sadly we’re doing a pretty good job of it. We just find it convenient to point the finger and blame towards someone else so that we can sleep at night. It’s time to look in the mirror and take a long good look at what we are doing, and then formulate an immediate global action plan to get us out of this mess.
Over the years I’ve felt frustrated and helpless at times, sometimes even questioning why I bother, as nothing I could ever do will change the way 1.2 billion people across the border think. But that’s the point we are all missing. Before we start trying to change other people, we need to change ourselves first. We are all guilty parties when it comes to the diminishment of life in our oceans, whether it’s overfishing to feed ourselves or livestock, plastic pollution or other pollutants, or the targeting of a specific species for luxury dishes.
Last week I visited one of the many dried markets in Guangzhou with several conservation-minded Chinese friends. After experiencing in Hong Kong the many dried seafood shops of Sheung Wan, the thousands of fins drying in the street and the fins on the roof, I’ve realized that I’ve become desensitized to the slaughter of sharks on an industrial scale. Walking around the markets of Guangzhou was nothing new really, just on a bigger level. I would guesstimate we saw approximately 2 million shark fins that morning, but it’s all extra zeros, and after a while, they too become irrelevantly numb.