Sharks have existed for over 400 million years and have survived five great extinction events as a lineage. Yet in the past two decades several populations of sharks have faced steep declines due to rampant exploitation. Their slow reproductive rates, relatively few young and long gestation make sharks extremely vulnerable to overfishing. The disappearance of these apex predators causes dangerous imbalances in marine ecosystems worldwide. The decline in shark species will inevitably cascade through the food chain, leading to the loss of additional fish populations. As of 2014, 30 percent of sharks and related species (e.g., rays and chimaera) are threatened with extinction. Unless the rising demand for fins is curbed, this percentage will only increase. Each year, fins from as many as 73 to 100 million sharks enter the global market. Moreover, approximately 50 million sharks die annually as bycatch in unregulated and indiscriminate longline, gillnet, and trawl fisheries. Given the myriad and unsustainable threats that sharks face, we must take action to ensure these animals will remain an integral part of our oceans. Eliminating the shark fin trade removes one of the biggest impediments to the continued survival of endangered shark species like hammerhead and oceanic white-tip sharks.
Overfishing sharks motivated by the high fin value and shark finning are the major causes driving sharks towards extinction. Shark finning is the unsustainable and inhumane practice of cutting off a shark’s fins, often while the shark is still alive, and discarding the body into the ocean. The fins are used in the luxury shark fin soup and other dishes. Once an expensive dish limited to the nobility, shark fin soup is now widely sold to millions of consumers. As economies grow in Asia, a dish once reserved for the elite is now available to the middle class, and is in huge demand among many Asian communities in China and around the world, including across the United States. Although shark finning is illegal in the USA, the sale and trade of fins is still allowed in most US states and shark fins are imported and re-exported thereby contributing to shark finning and other illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing of sharks. The trade in shark fin is increasing shark catch, placing more pressure on threatened species and is driving overfishing of many shark species.
The transport of shark fin mixes endangered species, protected species and illegally finned shark fins with legally caught animals, and thereby contributes to decline of shark species globally. We call on Fed Ex to join 35 airlines and carriers including UPS, DHL and Air China and stop facilitating this unsustainable trade of endangered and threatened sharks and stop the shipment of shark fin.