Shark #Finning and Shark Fishing: What’s the Difference? | Speak Up For The Blue.

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Sharing finning and shark fishing are not the same thing. One is a gruesome act while the other has potential to be sustainable. Check out how you can save sharks!


Shark finning is a wasteful and cruel practice. It is wasteful because the entire body of the shark, which could provide a valuable source of protein as well as income, is dumped overboard at sea because the body would otherwise take up cargo space on the ship. In today’s markets, the fin alone is worth more than the rest of the shark. Shark finning is cruel because the fins are typically removed from live sharks, which are then thrown back into the ocean and left to drown. The impact of shark finning on the global shark population is dramatic and it has been cited as a major conservation concern. Globally, scientists and conservationists have reported a drastic decline in the abundance of assessed shark and ray species, with up to 30% of all species now classified as threatened or endangered. Limited data to assess how many and what type of sharks are being harvested results in a high level of uncertainty about the population status of many shark species. Shark finning contributes to this uncertainty because it is almost impossible to identify what species of shark has been caught based only on its fins.

The practice of shark finning has been a hot topic in the media, in Hollywood, and has been the focus of many organizations like Shark Savers and Shark Angels. But does that mean all shark fishing is bad? If shark populations can be managed to support sustainable shark fisheries, then there is a potential for economic and sustenance benefits, as well as achieving the goal of conserving sharks all over the world. Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can manage for healthy shark fisheries.

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Operation Requiem – Sea Shepherd. Sea Shepherd has a long legacy protecting the oceans and defending whales, dolphins, tuna and seals. Now we are launching a campaign to protect sharks – an animal …

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Sea Shepherd Conservation Society – Protecting oceans around the world.


The animal we fear the most is also one we depend upon for our survival.

Sharks play a crucial role on this Planet. For 450 million years, they have ensured our ocean’s health – enabling our very existence.

But sharks, and this Planet, are quietly headed for disaster.

Up to 73 million sharks will be killed this year. That’s over 10,000 every hour.

Few know, often blinded by misguided fears, of the shark’s current struggles. Sharks are quickly headed for extinction.

Why? Primarily to feed consumer demand for their fins.

We are running out of time. But we all have the power to make a difference.

It is up to all of us, now, to collaboratively work together and save the sharks. To enforce the laws protecting them. To quickly curb the issues leading to their demise. To prevent this catastrophic extinction.

We have a long legacy protecting the oceans and defending whales, dolphins, tuna and seals. Now we are launching a campaign to protect sharks – an animal few believe is worth fighting for.


Support Sea Shepherd’s Operation Requiem and play a very important role in changing the future for sharks.

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Is shark finning illegal? – Sea Shepherd.

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Sea Shepherd Conservation Society – Protecting oceans around the world.


While shark finning is contrary to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s International Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, as mentioned above, these are not legal requirements – merely recommendations – and thus cannot be enforced.

Each country with a coastline is responsible for laws and regulations pertaining to fishing in their waters – within their territorial area and within a lesser extent, their exclusive economic zones. And, a number of countries have varying degrees of shark-finning legislation.

In some cases, only whole sharks may be landed. In other cases, amounts are banned by a rule that a vessel may not land shark fins that weigh more than 5 percent of the “dressed” weight of the sharks: that is, the weight of the carcass after the removal of the head and innards.

65 countries have banned finning – many more need to be encouraged to enact legislation.

Countries/Regions with Shark Finning Regulations:


American Samoa
Australia (most States & Territories)
Cape Verde
Costa Rica
El Salvador

European Union
Seychelles (foreign vessels only)
South Africa (in national waters only)
United States

Many of these regulations are weak – or are open to interpretation – and are being exploited. The following countries have stronger legislation, requiring shark fins to be partially or fully attached to the shark carcass in some or all of their fisheries:

Costa Rica
El Salvador
United Kingdom

And, all of the above laws prohibit the act of shark finning – not shark fishing. At this point, banning shark finning alone does not solve the problem, as sharks are still being fished at unsustainable rates. Often when laws are created, shark finning still continues. What is needed is a ban on shark fishing, not just a ban on shark finning.


The largely un-policed international seas represent another issue. Thanks to shortage of resources, many countries, particularly those economically challenged like Columbia, Ecuador, and Oman, that do have shark finning regulations don’t aggressively police their waters – or chose to turn a blind eye. Meanwhile ships from wealthier shipping fleets from across the world plunder their last remaining sharks. Clearly, we cannot rely on the laws alone.

Sadly, it isn’t just shark finning. The world is battling with Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) fishing globally across all species. Costing the world between $4 – $9 billion a year, not to mention the high price of species extinction and ecosystem destruction, IUU fishing accounts for 30 – 40% of the global catch. This is devastating for the oceans and for the planet, particularly to some of the poorest countries in the world where dependency on fishing is a critical part of survival.

Fins from all over the world for sale at a distributor. Photo: Julie Andersen, sharkangels.comIn Mozambique alone, it is anticipated IUU fishing accounts for $40 million a year in lost income. With 80% of Mozambicans living below the poverty level, it isn’t surprising that shark finning is running rampant. Fins from a single shark can fetch up to US$120, a few months’ income, paid by some savvy businessmen from Hong Kong who also provide the gear. Consider a small dugout boat can land as many as 1,000 sharks a year and you realize the extent of the problem. The word is out. Shark fins mean big money and fishermen everywhere, desperate to feed their families, are heeding the call.

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Element Crucial For Life On Earth Probably Came From Mars, New Study Finds | PlanetSave

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Owing to the fact that it is far easier for a chunk of Mars to travel to Earth than the other way around,  it is likely that certain elements necessary to catalyze the formation of biological molecules (like RNA and DNA) came  from our neighboring Red Planet. The vehicle for this interplanetary catalytic “seeding” was most likely a Martian meteor.

That’s according to a team of biochemists led by Steven Benner of The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Florida.

Somewhere around 3.5 half billion years ago, the first biomolecules and then single-celled lifeforms emerged on our watery planet. There was “organic soup” aplenty…but one problem: just adding an energetic spark to this soup of molecules merely turns it into a tarry, sticky slime; supra-molecular forms like enzymes and RNA do not spontaneously self-organize in this mixture. No, what is needed is some type of substance — key metallic elements are ideal — that can serve as the catalysts, to get the whole thing rolling. As it turns out, there is a key element — one crucial for biomolecular formation here on Earth — that was lacking from the primordial Earth-scape but was plentiful on Mars.

In a report presented today at the annual Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Florence, Italy, a team of geochemists (Benner et al) presented compelling evidence that an oxidized form of the metallic element Molybdenum was most likely this crucial, missing catalyst.



In a press statement, Benner elaborated:

“It’s only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidized that it is able to influence how early life formed. This form of molybdenum couldn’t have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because 3 billion years ago, the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did. It’s yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet.”

The geochemist team also stated that another metallic element, boron, could also serve this “jump-start” function here on Earth. However, water tends to impede the accumulation of boron (which is found here only in dry land masses) and there’s water aplenty here on Earth. But Mars – a dry planet — is ideal for boron accumulation.

According to Benner et al, all this water would make it extremely difficult for boron to aggregate in sufficient quantities to support the earliest stages of bio-evolution [note: land run-off of the element from flash-flooding river flows to the sea could have provided this resource].

A watery environment (whether a “warm little pond”, a clay-lined tidepool, deep under a glacier, or near a thermal vent on the sea floor) is believed to have been absolutely necessary to support the matrix of Life. As to the possible role for boron and its origin, Benner also stated:

“Analysis of a Martian meteorite recently showed that there was boron on Mars; we now believe that the oxidized form of molybdenum was there, too,” he said

Further, Benner added, water is “corrosive to RNA”, the self-replicating supramolecule that many who theorize about the Origin of Life believe must have preceded the formation of DNA (a more complex molecule). This is known as the RNA World hypothesis (see: Author Comment, below).


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New ‘Extreme’ Form of Bacteria Found In NASA, ESA Clean Rooms | PlanetSave.

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A completely new bacterial life form that appears to inhabit only space agency ‘clean rooms’ has been classified after more than three years of investigation and analysis.

Microbial lifeforms that can survive and even thrive in extreme environments — known as extremophiles — have become the focus of much research in recent years.

Such extreme-adapted lifeforms are found living in some of the planet’s most challenging environments: in the frigid and high saline reservoirs a mile beneath Antarctic glaciers or living in the deep ocean alongside smoking, sulfur-spewing thermal vents. A few, such as the polyextremophile Deinococcus radiodurans, can withstand hundreds or even thousands of times the radiation dose that would kill any larger animal.

But when we think of an extreme environment we tend not to view being completely “clean” or sterile as one such environment. But that’s exactly the kind of environment astronautical engineers must maintain to protect their space crafts from accidentally contaminating other worlds by allowing microbes to hitch-hike into space.

Space programs must maintain extremely clean (i.e., microbe free) environments in the form of clean rooms which are kept “totally” sterile through a strict protocol. Clean room air is constantly filtered. All surfaces in a clean room are repeatedly scrubbed with alcohol and hydrogen peroxide and then heated to high temperatures than microbes can not tolerate. Persons entering a clean room must wear full coverage (except for the eyes) prophylactic clothing and are even subject to a high-pressure ‘air-blasting” before entering to remove any residual bugs or potential bug-harboring substances that might be present on the body.

For this reason as well as the critical importance of preventing accidental contamination of any probed world, the discovery of any microbial life in a clean room is a matter of great concern. And, if such a microorganism were to be both highly adapted to sterile conditions and a previously unknown life form, the concern is magnified.



A Brief History of a New Bug

Our story begins in 2007 in a clean room at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (Florida). There, NASA engineers were busy making final adjustments to the Mars lander Pheonix prior to its launch. And it was there that the first evidence of this unusual microbe surfaced.

Two years later, in May of 2009, European Space Agency (ESA) engineers working at the agency’s South American site were preparing the Herschel Space Telescope prior to launch on-board an Ariane 5 rocket. They began a concerted search for any contamination in or around the site and found traces of what appeared to be a similar microorganism.

The existence of an organism that could survive such sterilization procedures (in an environment devoid of nutrients) naturally becomes a subject of great scientific curiosity. Following the 2009 discovery, Scientists from NASA and ESA teamed up to investigate the highly unusual bacterial life form.

A Brand New ‘Phoenix’ of a Microbe – Found Nowhere Else (So Far)

Designated Tersicoccus phoenicis (‘tersi’ means ‘clean, ‘coccus’ refers to its spherical shape, and ‘phoencis’ refers to both the Mars lander and the indestructible bird of Greek myth), scientists determined that the bacterium was more unusual than they had thought; it was a new genus (a higher category of taxonomic classification) as well as a new species. The new “extreme” microorganism was described in a paper published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology this past July.

Parag Vaishampayan, a microbiologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (who led the team behind the Kennedy Space Center detection) commented:

“This is the first report of bugs isolated in two different clean rooms, and nowhere else.” [quote source]

Microbiologist analyzing the bug found that it shares less than 95% of it genome with its next closest related bacterium. They also characterized the bacterium’s cell wall as having a “unique molecular composition”. This and other unique properties helped classify the bug as a genuinely new type of bacterium.

Big Questions for a Small Life Form

Other questions remain: scientists do not yet know if T. phoenicis lives only in clean rooms or if it is found elsewhere on Earth but has avoided detection up to this point. Its “extreme” adaptation may be the result of a lack of competition. The new bug may not be able to thrive under normal (high microbe diversity) conditions or environments; it dominates only when all other competing microbial life forms are eliminated. So, it may indeed be present in other nutrient and microbe-rich locales but in such small numbers that it goes undetected.

But there is another question of deep concern here that revolves around the issue of “planetary protection”: Has such a life form survived previous clean missions, such as Mars rover missions, or the Pheonix lander mission, and made its way secretively to another world already?


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