A hunger for shark fin soup — a brothy, gelatinous dish that’s considered a delicacy in East Asia — is responsible for the deaths of about 73 million sharks each year. It was previously believed that many of these sharks were being caught in international waters, beyond the authority of any individual country, but a new study has upended this assumption: it found that fins were actually coming from sharks present in coastal waters, within countries’ exclusive economic zones. “It definitely gives us new information we didn’t have before … [and] repositions where the problem is occurring,” lead author Kyle Van Houtan, chief scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium, told Mongabay. “But it also may give us some challenges that we didn’t realize we had.” Each country or jurisdiction has its own rules regarding the capture, trade and sale of shark fins. While many have outwardly banned the practice of shark finning — which involves slicing the fins off a shark, often while still alive, and then discarding the body — it can still be legal to take and sell fins from a shark that has been legally fished. And while some sharks can be legally traded across international borders, the trade of other species is either strictly regulated or prohibited. Shark fins being sorted outside a shop in Hong Kong. Image by OceansAsia. But once fins have been skinned, dried and bleached in preparation for sale, it’s difficult to distinguish which species they came from, and whether they were acquired legally or illegally.…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer