Month: April 2021

Shark catch: from hunter to hunted.

Until recently, I thought that the cruel business with the shark fins, only happens in Asia, but on our trip we were taught better. As we strolled through the Spanish fish market in Pontevedra, I spotted shark fillet at one of the many counters and was irritated. I was not aware that there are people in Europe who voluntarily eat shark meat, since it is known to be contaminated with heavy metals and therefore unhealthy for the human body. Most of all, however, I was concerned with the question of how it can be that shark fillets are offered at an enormously low price on a Spanish fish market, when at the same time the population of sharks is drastically declining and many species are threatened with extinction. So I started researching that very day and was shocked at what I found out.

On the Atlantic coast of northern Spain, in a town called Vigo (not far from where we visited the fish market), is the main hub for shark fishing in Europe. The animals are caught, for example, in their retreat and leaching areas around and off the Azores. The longline fishery used to catch sharks is one of the most brutal forms of destruction of our oceans. The lines are up to 300 kilometers long with 20,000 hooks per 100 kilometers. What is well covered up, but actually obvious, is that this method also catches endangered species, such as the great white shark, hammerhead sharks and turtles. These are thrown death or with serious injuries back into the sea.

Over 90 million sharks are killed every year. That’s over 190 sharks per minute. 30% of them under the Spanish flag!





A billion-dollar business that can hardly be controlled and that has led to the extinction of between 90 and 99 percent of animals in the last 100 years alone, depending on the species.

The largest shark fishing nations in the world are Indunesia, India, Spain, Portugal and Japan. The shark fins are mainly sold to China and Hong Kong, also known as “Shark Fin City” is the trading center. It is a very lucrative business, as the soup cooked from the fins, is a status symbol in China. A single shark fin can cost up to 1,000 euros, and you pay around 100 euros for a plate of shark fin soup. The shark meat, on the other hand, is worthless.

But since July 2013, in Europe all caught sharks must be brought ashore with all fins on the body, of course, a huge mountain of shark meat arises, which you have to get rid of. In the past, fishermen used to pull the animals out of the sea to cut off their fins, while they were usually still alive. Subsequently, the animals were seriously injured and thrown back into the sea, unable to swim. Once at the bottom of the sea, they had to suffer an infinitely agonizing death, slowly suffocating in pain. This very shark finning method continues to be practiced illegally and sometimes legally in many countries. But who in Europe consumes these masses of shark meat landed through the finning ban?

The answer is frightening: we Europeans ourselves are the consumers, sometimes without even knowing it. Germany imports and consumes over 500 tons of shark annually. The consumer then buys them in the form of shark steaks, smoked schiller curls, or canned fish.

Because the shark is at the top of the food chain in the oceans, lives up to 90 years and prefers to hunt old and sick animals, its meat is so contaminated with methylmercury that eating it poses a serious threat to human health. One serving of shark meat of 250 grams, contains 350 milligrams of methylmercury. The established maximum limit is 0.1 milligrams of methylmercury per kilogram of a person’s body weight.This heavy metal can cause irreparable brain damage, kidney failure, nerve damage and increased risk of cancer, plus it has a half-life of 25 to 30 years in the body. Thus, it accumulates with each consumption. The same applies to the consumption, other large predatory fish species such as tuna, swordfish and halibut. If you think tuna isn’t that bad, you’re wrong. Tuna is as highly contaminated with methylmercury as shark.

According to an EU study, every third European child is now said to be born with elevated levels of methylmercury. Since the danger from eating large fish species is hushed up, there is still a large demand and, accordingly, a lucrative market. The solution seems quite simple at first, do not eat shark, swordfish, tuna, because where there is no demand, there is no market.


Wenn ihr euch aktiv für Haie einsetzen wollt, unterstützt die EU Bürgerinitiative „Stop Finning – Stop the Trade“ unter If you want to actively advocate for sharks, support the EU citizens’ initiative “Stop Finning – Stop the Trade” at For more information about shark fishing and projects to stop it, visit the website of the conservation organization SHARKPROJECT .





Source reference:

Plastic flood

The plastic problem is omnipresent. Social media, advertisements and documentaries point out the devastating consequences of plastic consumption and encourage one to change one’s shopping behavior to help protect the environment.

Plastic has been a problem in our oceans since the 1970s, and since then consumption, and therefore trash, continues to rise without much being done about it.

Last year, more than a million birds and more than half a million sea creatures died from plastic. The causes of death vary. Some Animals starve miserably with full stomachs, because plastic clogs the digestive system, many birds can not even fly because of these “full” stomachs. Marine mammals become entangled in old fishing nets, drown or suffer serious injuries during attempts to free them, from which they eventually die.

Where is all this plastic from? How does it get into the sea? The main cause of the immense amount of plastic waste is commercial fishing. Nearly half of the 79,000 tons of trash, in the world’s largest garbage vortex, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, consists of fishing nets. It is these nets and lines that are particularly dangerous to marine life, as they can become entangled in them and suffer a slow, agonizing death. In addition, trash ends up in the oceans and coasts via rivers that flow to the sea, wind, and illegal dumping. If we keep this up, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean in about 20 years.

Of course, we also witnessed the plastic problem during our trip. Honestly, everywhere and all around the clock. Especially the beaches were frightening, but also the plastic consumption of many people was a disaster after a closer look. In my opinion, any single-use plastic items should have been generally banned long ago, but unfortunately not much can be expected from the government. As consumers, we must become more aware and, above all, more critical. Because where there is no demand, there is no supply.

We’ve been keeping our everyday life low in plastic for a long time, go shopping in unpacked stores, buy dairy products in reusable jars and make sure to use only biodegradable soaps that don’t contain any microplastics.

But on this trip, we realized that it’s not enough to just reduce your own plastic consumption. So we made it a point to collect trash every morning, no matter where we were. On the beaches, however, it was unfortunately so that after two hours of collecting, we had two-three large garbage bags full, but the tenfold amount still lay on the beach and after each tide, new plastic is added.

We were almost always alone and cleaned the beaches as best we could. Attempts to contact locals and motivate them to collect plastic have often failed. Most had the excuse that a city cleanup crew would come in May and clear the beaches of trash before the tourist season. During the other 6 months, when there are no tourists in the area, the beach is suffocating in garbage and countless animals die from it.

On the Atlantic coast of northern Spain, in Cantabria, we have noticed an increase in small plastic pellets used to make plastic items on the beaches. After some research, we came up with two factories in the area that use these pellets and, accordingly, must be responsible for their presence in the sea and on the beaches.

We could hardly believe it and therefore contacted the mayor in charge. We have not received a response from him to this day.

After 6 months of traveling, we were convinced that there was no such thing as a plastic-free beach anymore.

Often one is overwhelmed by all the problems and believes there is nothing we can do about them, but we have to! We cannot rely on our governments, on any greenwashing seals and allegedly sustainable corporations. We must become active ourselves! We have to educate people, because only those who know about these abuses can consciously change something about them. Joint actions such as beach cleanups, lectures or fundraisers strengthen communities and encourage more people to get involved.