Attack survivors aim to save sharks with U.S. soup study

Thu Aug 9, 2012 11:27am EDT
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By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Survivors of shark attacks - now trying to save the animals that took their limbs and, in some cases, nearly their lives - want U.S. restaurant-goers to know they may be eating a threatened species in their shark fin soup.

Out of 32 samples taken across the country of the Chinese delicacy with identifiable shark DNA, 26 bowls, or 81 percent, contained fins from sharks listed as endangered, vulnerable or near threatened, according to a report released on Thursday by the Pew Environment Group.

The study was based on tests of the soup in 14 U.S. cities, and shark attack survivors collected the soup samples.

The survivors hope the study will help convince the public that the ultimate price of shark fin soup is more than the typical $100 listed on menus.

Nearly one-third of shark species are in danger of extinction, and up to 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, Pew said.

President Barack Obama signed a law last year to tighten a ban on the practice of removing sharks' fins and throwing the fish back into the ocean to die. Fins also can come from legal, regulated fishing.

"What better voice is there than ours?" said Mike Coots, 32, of Kauai, Hawaii, a surfer whose right leg was ripped off by a tiger shark in 1997.

The survivors group has lobbied Congress to close loopholes in the shark fin ban. It also works through the United Nations to encourage the establishment of shark sanctuaries around the world.   Continued...

A boat fishes for sharks off the beach at Boucan Canot on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, September 27, 2011. REUTERS/Laurent Capmas