The Horror of Japan’s Shark Fin Capital

The Horror of Japan's Shark Fin Capital
I know I promised to share some of my experiences and images of the sardine run but something demanding as much awareness as possible landed in my inbox this week, which I feel compelled to share with you. Before sharing this some important local news which is long overdue: last week the press revealed that Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Tina Joemat-Petterson, said she is subjecting Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) to a forensic investigation because it is “infested” with corruption. Scientists and conservationists, including AfriOceans Conservation Alliance, have for some time criticized MCM for failing to manage our fisheries. The transfer of MCM to the Forestry and Fishery department from the DEA has added to what appears to be a total breakdown of MCM. More about this later…

Back to the main topic of this blog and little background: about 5 years ago or so Alex Hofford came to see me when he was in South Africa to discuss a shark finning awareness project he was busy with. As two passionate shark conservationists, photographers, filmmakers and writers we had a lot in common and so became friends. Alex is a gifted and fearless photojournalist who now brings to public attention the shocking realities of the shark finning industry of Japan through powerful images, video footage and a hard hitting article:

“KESEN-NUMA CITY, JAPAN – It’s 5am on the the north eastern tip of Japan’s main island of Honshu, and 75 tons of dead shark is being meticulously arranged into a neat grid of tidy piles, of twenty sharks per pile. If you thought shark finning was exclusively a Chinese problem, think again. Welcome to Kesen-numa City, Japan’s shark fin capital. Here, six days a week, small teams of Japanese workers go about the hushed business of industrial shark-finning.

The Horror of Japan's Shark Fin Capital
“By 6.30am, with piles arranged, the sharks are disemboweled first. Hearts are ripped efficiently from bodies by men wearing brightly coloured rubber boots and aprons. At 7am, shark corpses are cleaned of their blood by workers wielding water hoses. And by 8am, small teams are silently moving up and down aisles and rows like robots in a Japanese car factory, quickly slicing off every dorsal, pectoral and tail fin from the lifeless, grey lumps. Big hungry black crows squawk in the shadows, looking for bloody morsels. And shark fins plop with regularity into small yellow plastic baskets. The baskets fill up fast, are then weighed, and finally carried to a nearby truck, where a man with a notepad strikes a deal. At 9.30am, it’s all over for another day. Fork lift trucks scoop up tons of limbless carcasses, then dump them into a high-sided truck. The process is a brutal sight to behold, and not for the faint-hearted.”

Thank you Alex for bringing this to public attention! TO READ MORE AND SEE MORE IMAGES GO TO:

  1. Tim RandsTim Rands07-19-2010

    This is terrible, how can this be allowed!?? We need to work together to end this madness!!

  2. mermanmerman07-23-2010

    Thank you for posting this, I am shocked, i know it is happening but the volume is shocking, it is surely a matter of time before there are no sharks left, or anything else for that matter!

  3. Samantha TownsendSamantha Townsend07-23-2010

    I love sharks and find this very disturbing. Is anything being done to stop this? How can we help – I feel so helpless. If there are no sharks left in the seas then it will affect the whole ecosystem/s. Don’t they know this?

  4. DanielDaniel07-28-2010


  5. Lesley RochatLesley Rochat10-11-2010

    My blog is posted on the site, here are some more comments:
    Pete on 15 July 2010
    This is outrageous! We welcome Japan to the FIFA World Cup to play soccer, we celebrate their investments into our country and we buy their cars without batting an eyelid while they continue to slaughter our marine life and rape our Oceans. Its time to stop these killers!
    Dion Sarrimanolis on 16 July 2010
    This is absolutely sad!.
    Lisa on 16 July 2010
    I actually feel ill.
    Eben on 16 July 2010
    I cannot understand, why this is allowed. They are not human. We have to stand together and do something!
    Annie Brown on 19 July 2010
    We CAN do something! Join a shark conservation group in South Africa. Be careful where you buy your fish and CHECK to see that the fish is'nt wild. Speak to restaurant owners about banning sharkfin soup. If we all had to speak to ONE person about this abhorent practise, maybe the SA Government would have to sit up and take notice
    David on 19 July 2010
    Terrible, the Japanese should feel ashamed of themselves. All us shark lovers should stand together and no longer buy Japanese products.
    Lesley Rochat on 28 July 2010
    I agree with all the comments left, we need to work together, and we need to inform more people – if as divers many are not aware, just imagine how few of the general public know the realities of what is going on. Share this blog with as many people as you can, that is a good start.
    Stacy Grundy on 30 July 2010
    This has me reeling with disgust. These people don't realize the long-term effects this will have for sharks – extinction!!!!! & then it will be too late.
    philip kantor on 20 August 2010
    with the japanese economy struggling to rebound from the recession, now is the time to make a point and desist from buying any products of origin. verbal assault where possible!!

  6. someonesomeone04-19-2011

    What do they do to the carcasses of the sharks?

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