We already know Malaysia is not really 'up there' when it comes to environment-related rankings. Not in a good way, anyway.
On Wednesday (18 September), The Star reported that Malaysia ranked second among countries that imported shark fins, with Hong Kong taking up the first spot.
Citing "An Overview of Major Shark Traders, Catchers, and Species" report by wildlife trade organisation Traffic, the report showed that Malaysia imported an average of 2,556 tonnes of shark fin each year between the years 2000 and 2016.
That is a lot of shark fins. What's more alarming is that the country didn't even make it to the list of top 10 countries that import shark meat.
What happens to our shark friends?
If you don't already know, fishermen catch sharks, cut their fins off while they're still alive (because the meat is not as much in demand as their fins), and then proceed to throw them back into the ocean.
That right; bloody and wounded, the sharks are thrown into salt water to die a slow and painful death.
Iff they're alive when thrown into the waters, they can't swim anymore because they do not have their fins, and it hurts like h*ll to have salt water touching the wounds. If you've ever experienced taking a shower after you just had a papercut, you know how that feels.
Here's a video by National Geographic if you want need visual aid to see how horrible the practice is:
That's right, guys; sharks get tortured and killed to satisfy people's taste for shark fins, particularly their love for shark fin soup.
Funny how sharks are seen as a danger to humans when we do this to them huh?
Why sharks are important
All creatures in the world have a role to play in the ecosystem, even the annoying mosquitoes and huge, scary sharks.
According to marine scientist Alvin Chelliah (whom we interviewed last year), sharks are apex predators sitting on top of the food chain in most marine ecosystems.
In a balanced ecosystem, small herbivorous fish gets eaten by carnivores which, in turn, get eaten by apex predators.
So, in a way, sharks help control the population of these smaller carnivores such as groupers, tuna, seals and dolphins.
Lesser sharks will mean more smaller carnivores, which will then affect the population of herbivorous sea creatures.
If there aren't enough herbivores in the seas, there'll be more algae, which will change the whole ecosystem in the area, and even cause irreversible phase shift.
Sharks also eat sick, weak and dead sea creatures, keeping a sort of balance in the sea.
And finally, sharks contribute to the health of sea grass bed and other essential habitats as they regulate the behaviour of prey species and prevent them from overgrasing simply through intimidation.
So, as you can see, sharks do play an important role in an ocean's ecosystem, and the more we kill for their fins, the more affected the ecosystem will be.
(By the way, you can read more about our interview with the shark expert here. It's a really good read)
It's time to do your part
If you think the sharks don't deserve such treatment, please stop consuming shark fin soup or shark fin anything, spread the word to everyone you know, and boycott places that serve them.
Oh and also, don't forget to let the establishments know why you're not frequenting the places anymore.
It is up to us to help our shark friends.