Though shark finning has been outlawed in Hawai‘i for more than two years, just last week, law enforcement busted a man trying to sell 14 fresh shark fins to Royal Garden in Ala Moana Hotel. Worldwide, the problem is exponentially worse. According to Tre Packard, founder of PangeaSeed, an organization dedicated to raising awareness for the plight of sharks, an estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year.
“The ocean has limits, and we are abusing those limits at break-neck speed,” says Packard. “The UN now estimates that global fish stocks will be in full collapse by the year 2048 if we don’t change our current destructive fishing and consumption habits. Even more frightening is that most shark species could be extinct in the next 10 to 20 years. In some areas shark populations have plummeted by 90 percent.”
Videos surfacing out of Japan depict the brutal process. The shark’s fin is switftly sliced off while the animal still writhes in the boat. Then just as quickly, it’s lopped over the side of the boat where it sinks to the sea floor.
Shark finning depicted at the 1:05 mark. Note: scenes are graphic.
In light of this, for the past couple of years, Packard has been campaigning against and documenting the mass slaughter of sharks in Asia. “From Hong Kong to Japan, I’ve been in areas where I’m literally up to my neck in bodies and fins of what science considers to be one of the most important and indispensable animals in the ocean. The relentless global pursuit to harvest the ocean’s sharks is staggering.”
In 2009, Packard founded Japan’s first and only shark conservation non-profit organization, PangeaSeed, with the support of friends, family and experts in the field. Raising education and awareness, their goal is to encourage the younger generation to develop an understanding of the human relationship to sharks and the oceans, as well as the direct effect their lifestyle and consumption habits have on the both.
This Thursday, March 21, PangeaSeed will host a benefit gala, “Sharks & Ships,” for finned friends at Fishcake in Kaka‘ako. The event will include whiskey tastings, hors d’oeuvres and desserts by Peace Café, shark art by 40 world-renowned contemporary artists, and pop-ups by Andy South, Hound & Quail, Na Mea and more.