放鲨鱼一条生路吧! / Let’s Finally Leave the Sharks Alone

放鲨鱼一条生路吧!

为烹制鱼翅汤,全世界的鲨鱼遭到过度捕捞而数量锐减。面对人类这种荼毒生灵乃至灭绝物种的行为,鲨鱼的愤怒可想而知。

据专家估计,全球捕捞业每年捕杀3,000万至7,000万条鲨鱼,其中尤以亚洲国家为甚。香港是世界鱼翅交易中心,每年进口的干翅达到10,000吨。

大部分鱼翅都是通过切割采集的。鲨鱼被拖到渔船甲板上,生生割掉鳍后再被抛回水里,任由它们慢慢死去,做法极不人道。

尽管鲨鱼长期以来都被电影和科幻小说妖魔化了[其中最著名的是《大白鲨》(Jaws)系列电影)],但事实上很多种鲨鱼从不伤人,而且对平衡海洋生态还起着极其重要的作用。

现有的捕鲨行为已经导致鲨鱼种群难以为继。作为重要的掠食者,鲨鱼的缺失也会连带导致食物链出现其他紊乱。

也许是一种终极猎食者(鲨鱼)和另外一种终极猎食者(人类)之间的因果报应吧,2010年全球鲨鱼袭击致死案上升到了二十年来的最高点。由此似乎可以得出一个初步结论:海里的鲨鱼少了,但剩下的都是饿昏了头的大块头。但事实并非如此。

2010年有记载的鲨鱼袭击事件共有75起——与近十年的平均值不相上下——但不同的是,2010年致人死亡的案例却翻了一番。

美国发生的鲨鱼袭击事件最多,达到了29起。但由于采取了更加完善的预备和应急措施,没有发生一例死亡。前往偏远并缺乏鲨鱼袭击紧急救治措施的地区旅游和探险是导致死亡率升高的主要原因。

在世界鲨鱼袭击排行榜上,美国以29起居第一,紧随其后的是澳大利亚11起,南非5起。排名前三的国家均有海岸线,且流行冲浪运动,所以出现鲨鱼袭击倒也在情理之中。其中冲浪时遭遇的袭击占60%,游泳占35%,潜水占5%。

到目前为止,鲨鱼袭击的主要对象都是不吃鱼翅的人。

大中华区的居民真是侥幸,但千万不要太得意了。上世纪九十年代中,香港就曾发生过非常罕见的鲨鱼袭人潮,持续时间长达三年之久,造成多起游泳者重伤和死亡事故。

当时,一位澳大利亚的鲨鱼专家应邀前往调查,但经过一番努力仍无法对所涉及的鲨鱼种类(主要怀疑对象为大白鲨、虎鲨、公牛鲨)以及袭人案突然集中爆发的原因得出结论。

有种说法是香港赤腊角机场(Chek Lap Kok airport)的建设破坏了传统的鲨鱼产卵区,此外全年无休的近海捕捞作业也迫使鲨鱼转而捕食两条腿的猎物。

香港很多海滩都设置了防鲨网,但九十年代的鲨鱼袭击案至今仍然是个不解之谜。

但是,有一点可以肯定的是:解决世界鲨鱼资源殆尽的关键在于中国消费者停止享用鱼翅汤和鲨鱼软骨丸。

一些酒店和餐饮集团为提高公众对这一问题的认识,从菜单上撤掉了鱼翅,对此我鼓掌欢迎。教育工作者、媒体从业者、决策者们也应该积极行动起来。

对于那些不相信生态说的人,一项近期研究显示,鱼翅中所含的神经毒素与阿尔茨海默症(老年痴呆)、葛雷克氏症(渐冻人)等脑部退化疾病有关。而早期研究更显示,食用鱼翅会有汞中毒的风险。

为了鲨鱼,为了海洋和我们子孙的健康,是时候做出改变了!

Let’s Finally Leave the Sharks Alone

It should come as no surprise that the world’s shark population, which has been severely depleted by overfishing to supply demand for shark’s fin soup, is unhappy about humans decimating their ranks to the point of near extinction of some species.

Experts estimate that humans are killing 30 to 70 million sharks per year through worldwide fishery efforts, much of it performed by the fishing fleets of Asian countries. In Hong Kong, the global capital of the shark fin trade, 10,000 tons of dried fins are imported each year.

Most of the shark fins are obtained through finning, an inhumane practice whereby the fin is cut off while the fish is on the deck of the fishing boat. The mutilated fish is then thrown back in the water to die slowly.

Although sharks have long been demonized in film and fiction, most famously by the “Jaws” series of movies, in reality most species of shark are harmless to man, and play a very important role in the ecological balance of the world’s oceans.

The current level of shark fishing is depleting the shark population to unsustainable levels, while the knock-on effect of removing a key predator from the feed chain is causing other dislocations.

Perhaps as karmic payback from one apex predator (sharks) to another (mankind), 2010 saw fatal shark attacks worldwide reach a 20-year high. The initial conclusion would seem to be: a lot less sharks are in the sea, but more of them are big, hungry ones. But this turns out to be wrong.

The number of documented shark attacks worldwide — 75 during 2010 — was about equal to the ten-year average. The difference is that twice as many of these proved fatal in 2010.

The U.S. had the largest number of shark attacks, with 29, yet due to improved readiness and contingency plans, none of these proved fatal. It turns out that the rise in fatality rates had more to do with tourists venturing further afield in more remote parts of the world, to places lacking emergency medical care for shark attack victims.

The U.S. lead the world tables with 29 shark attacks, followed by Australia with 11, and South Africa with 5. It’s logical that the top 3 have sea coasts where surfing is popular. Surfing accounted for 60% of attacks, followed by swimming at 35% and diving at 5%.

So far, sharks are mostly attacking people who don’t eat them in soup.

That’s an undeserved blessing for residents of Greater China, but let’s not be complacent. In the mid-90s there was a very unusual spike in shark attacks at beaches in Hong Kong, which involved serious injuries and several fatalities to swimmers, and lasted for about 3 years.

An Australian shark expert was called in to investigate, but the effort proved inconclusive as to identifying which shark species were involved (speculation focused on great whites, tiger sharks and bull sharks), or the reasons behind the sudden spate of attacks.

One theory was that the construction of Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport had disrupted a traditional spawning area for sharks, while at the same time the severe depletion of the inshore fish population through perennial overfishing forced sharks to feed on two-legged prey instead.

Shark nets were installed at many Hong Kong beaches, but the mid-90s incidents remain something of a mystery to this day.

One thing is for sure: the solution to the depletion of the worldwide shark population depends on Chinese consumers stopping their consumption of shark’s fin soup and shark cartilage pills.

I applaud the efforts of various hotel and restaurant groups to heighten awareness of this problem while taking shark’s fin off their menus. Educators, editors, and policy-makers need to address the issue more proactively as well.

For those who find the ecological argument unconvincing, a recent study suggests a link between a neurotoxin found in shark’s fins and degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Earlier studies also highlighted the risks of mercury poisoning.

For the sake of the sharks, the health of our seas and of our children, it’s finally time to make a change.


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