MUJI JAPAN, a company that self-proclaims to follow eco-conscious practices, has ignored the outcries of over 54,000 of their customers and petitioners to stop the careless slaughter of sharks for use in shark fin soup, which is sold in the company’s stores.
Every year, some 100 million sharks are intentionally killed by humans.
A majority of them are killed for their fins, which are often used to make shark fin soup. Although this had lead to a 90 percent-plus decline in many shark species, it is allowed to continue – because somewhere people fancy the novelty killing rare, unseemly flesh a delicacy, and there are enough of these “somewheres” peppered across the globe to earn a fine buck doing so.
This practice, called “finning“, involves the inhumane removal of a shark’s fins while at sea. After fins have been harvested, the remaining 95 percent of the animal’s body is simply tossed aside. You see, the discarded body, if it were to be sold, would have a measly worth of $0.85. The fins, however, can cost an upward of $20,000.
Unfortunately, finning is practiced far and beyond the shores of Japan, as participants consist of nearly all countries with coastlines, from Spain to Singapore.
In January 2013, Tanaka Eri wrote to MUJI about her concerns with their use of shark fin soup. The response was dismal, with the company pledging to continue to sell shark fin soup until officially banned by the government. This prompted Eri to start an online petition in order to urge MUJI’s stores in Japan to stop the support of these cruel and destructive acts by ceasing to sell shark fin soup.
Despite an overwhelming response from citizens around the world and an impressive tally of signatures, MUJI has refused to acknowledge the petition.
Sharks are remnants of prehistoric era, having arrived some 150 million years before the dinosaurs. Their perseverance as a species has seen them through five grand-scale extinctions and has granted them status as top apex predators. Yet, their populations are feared to be wiped out within the next ten to twenty years due to the slighting of the human hand.
What’s more, once populations have declined, reintroduction will be neither quick nor easy. Sharks are slower to reach sexual maturity, and a majority do not begin reproducing until they have reached 10-20 years of age. Additionally, rather than producing yearly off-spring in the thousands, sharks reproduce every 2-4 years in far fewer numbers.
If this loss were to commence, it would compromise the integrity of the entire marine eco-system, and eventually that of us land-dwellers.
Student activists in British Columbia have already been raising funds to protect sharks worldwide. You can help by writing or emailing MUJI, and demand they live up to their aspirations to “make products that are good for people and the environment.”
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