Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2022


John Van Buren


This thesis paper traverses the practice of shark finning, one of the most lucrative fishing practices and dually the largest threat to shark species’ populations. The process of systematic injury to sharks and the trade of their fins takes place all over the world, and while clearly detrimental to the wellbeing of each individual shark, it is even harsher on environments in which these keystone species are vital to the survival of the ecosystem around it. Chapter 1 of this paper explores several reports and studies encapsulating the most prevalent problems and negative externalities within the shark-finning industry, both in the United States and around Southeast Asia. Chapter 2 focuses primarily on the ecological impacts that sharks have in their respective environments but also highlights the importance of species diversity and conservation, a theme developed in this chapter and referenced throughout the paper. Chapter 3 subsequently delves into the economic data behind shark-finning, the trade and transportation of fins, and the strong ties to commercial fisheries. The dimension of these animal resources that do not have a specific dollar value will also be addressed. Chapter 4 then pursues an examination of the environmental ethics behind the practice of finning. The roots of this practice are based in ancient Chinese tradition, so sociological and cultural consideration will also be fully granted as well as stressed in this section. Chapter 5 centers around policy recommendations and possible alternatives that are not only geared towards protecting the most vulnerable species of sharks, but more importantly aim to eliminate shark-finning and fin trade altogether to pursue a completely different approach.