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In Captain Paul Watson: Fear and Loathing of Sharks in Western Australia, Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson (warning: Islamophobic content elsewhere in the article) says

On the other hand, we humans slaughter some 70 million sharks annually primarily to supply a few affluent Chinese with a bowl of tasteless soup.

Are sharks primarily hunted for Chinese cuisine?

  • Is your question asking whether sharks are hunted mostly/entirely for their fins, or is it asking whether their fins are mostly/entirely for Chinese cuisine, or both? I don't know why you doubt this claim, so I don't know which aspect of it needs the most evidence. – ChrisW Nov 29 '14 at 21:26
  • I'm mainly skeptical of sharks being hunted mainly for their fins. I assume that when other cuisines use shark meat, they use most of their body. I'm skeptical of Watson's claim partially because I've heard about Australia using shark meat (flake), and partially because I suspect Watson, based on his track record and also other content within this article, of either being racist, or using racism to sell his message. – Andrew Grimm Nov 30 '14 at 4:12
  • In the introduction to Refuting the Racist Rhetoric Paul Watson says that, in his experience, "Marxists tend to be anti-nature, thoroughly anthropocentric, and have a tendency to dismiss biocentrism as anti-human and racist." What sophistry would this be: "the message criticizes another country's regulations, therefore it's racist, therefore it's a lie...". IMO he does deserve to be called "militant" though, probably. – ChrisW Dec 2 '14 at 13:26
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Yes: the finning trade is estimated to be larger than the commercial shark-meat trade.

According to Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks; Worm et al.:

Clarke et al. [9] used trade auction records from Hong Kong to estimate that the total mass of sharks caught for the fin trade. Estimates ranged between 1.21 and 2.29 Mt (million metric tons) yr−1 with a median estimate of 1.70 Mt yr−1 in the year 2000. This amounted to more than four times the reported shark catch from FAO at that time [9].

Fig 2 from ref. article

Estimating global shark mortality for the year 2000. Included are reported (from FAO) and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) landings as well as shark discards. Total mortality was calculated as the total catch minus the number of sharks which survived discarding. All figures were rounded to nearest 1000 metric tons.

In this figure, note "Finned: 908,000 [tons]" out of a total mortality of 1,445,000 tons. There is no "Died post-release" breakdown of finned sharks since:

Discarded sharks that are finned suffer 100% mortality

  • It's a pity sharks are being fished only for their fins. Shark meat is delicious. The whole animal should be used for food. The meat is not fishy and once shredded it's great for making thick, cake-like omelettes (bit.ly/15OS3Ff), stuffed pastries (bit.ly/1vNocVV), or can be served seasoned as a main curse with rice on the side (bit.ly/15ORYRY). The pictures are actual pictures of food made with shark (cazón is spanish for several small species of sharks). – Tulains Córdova Dec 3 '14 at 14:38

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