Researchers estimate that nearly 73 million sharks are killed every year for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup, a costly delicacy served in Chinese restaurants. Fins from a variety of shark species are used in the preparation of this delicacy, which may cost $100 a bowl. The demand for shark fin soup in countries like Hong Kong and China are driving many species of sharks like the hammerhead, blue and silky sharks to extinction. According to the shark foundation, three sharks die every second, because of finning, loss of natural habitat or by getting tangled in fishing nets. The current estimates by scientists, reported in the journal ‘Ecology Letters’, are much higher than the figures reported to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which says that about half-a-million sharks are killed every year for their fins.

Most of the fins used in shark fin soup come from living sharks, which are thrown back in to the sea after the fins are removed. Finless sharks eventually die from suffocation or become easy prey to other sharks or fish, since they will not be able to swim without their fins. This process of ‘finning’ is banned in many countries but perpetrators find the loop holes in the law to continue this trade. Many ecologists fear that most of the shark species could go extinct in another 10 to 20 years because to this fin trade.

Sharks play an important role in the marine ecosystem, as scavengers and top predators in the food chain and if they go extinct, then the entire ecosystem would be thrown off-balance.   

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