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Opinion: Sharks need our help to live

Activists place a fake shark fin in Rome's Trevi fountain during a protest against finning, Nov. 17, 2012. Environmentalist organizations demonstrated in the Italian capital against the practice, in which the top fins are cut off sharks and used to make shark fin soup, popular in Asia. AP/Marco Cuomo

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Sharks are in trouble. Too many are being caught by fishing boats. Some kinds may not be around much longer.

Sharks may be scary, but they are very important. They hunt smaller fish. Without them, there would be too many small fish.

Big Problem: Shark Fin Soup

The problem is that people like to eat sharks. Shark fin soup is very popular. Many people in Asia like to eat it. The fin sticks out from a shark's body. It helps the shark move through water.

Leaders from many countries will meet soon. They are getting together in San Jose, Costa Rica. They will talk about ways to help sharks. 

The leaders will set a limit on shark fishing. Anything more would be too much fishing.

There is one big problem. Scientists do not know enough. No one knows how much fishing is going on. No one knows how many sharks are left. It is hard to set the right limit without knowing those things.

One thing is sure. We are fishing more and more. Fishermen today catch three times as many fish as they did in 1950. 

Sharks In Danger Of Dying Out

Things have gotten better for sharks in some places. Some countries no longer let anyone fish for shark. But the United States still does.

Shark finning is no longer allowed in parts of Europe. Shark finning is a wasteful kind of fishing. Only the shark's fin is kept. The rest is tossed back into the water. 

Fishermen like shark finning because the fin is what people want. Fishermen do not get much money for the rest of the shark. It is easier to just throw it away. Now European fishermen cannot do that anymore.

Some fishermen have stopped fishing for sharks. Keeping the body is too much trouble.

Those changes have helped, but they are not enough. There is still much more to do. Fishermen, scientists and leaders must work together. If they do not, some kinds of sharks will die out. Soon, there will not be any left at all.

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Anchor 6: Point of View/Purpose

Read the section "Sharks In Danger Of Dying Out."

Choose the paragraph from this section that shows what the author thinks should happen next.

Anchor 6: Point of View/Purpose

Why does the author think that sharks are important to save?


Sharks are not very scary or dangerous.


Sharks help control the numbers of small fish.


Shark fin soup is very healthy for people to eat.


Shark fishermen need the sharks to make money.

Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the sentences from the section "Sharks In Danger Of Dying Out."

Only the shark's fin is kept. The rest is tossed back into the water.

What is the meaning of the word "toss"?









Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the sentences from the section "Big Problem: Shark Fin Soup."

The leaders will set a limit on shark fishing. Anything more would be too much fishing.

What is meant by "limit" in the first sentence?


a new kind of punishment


a rule about how much shark fishing is allowed


a law that makes it illegal to eat shark fins


an idea about the best way to hunt sharks


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