Shark hunting - An indiscriminate trade endangering elasmobranchs to extinction
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Shark finning - chopping-off the fins and discarding the rest - is increasing worldwide to satisfy the demand of shark-fin soup. This massive requirement for shark fins and other shark-related products has created an industry motivated by high returns. Reaching figures of up to US$ 116/kg, shark fins have become one of the world’s most precious commodities. India has rich resources of elasmobranchs. Of this, annual shark production has been around 45,500 tonnes, obtained as a by-catch from a variety of gears. Shark-fin export in India reached its peak in 1995 with 303 tonnes, while a second peak was in 2001. Indian shark fins have been processed and marketed in many forms. Some of the shark-fin products have large market demand. Intricate techniques used for grading, processing and packaging of shark fin add to the product value. Overfishing due to increased demand has endangered many shark species. Mitigation measures are required to save the primitive species from becoming extinct. Identification of sharks based on fins, to track species being overfished has been a difficult task so far. However, recent developments on DNA based forensic techniques have made the problem somewhat easy. This method of identifying sharks from the fins earmarked for export, could serve well to implement control measures to this unscrupulous trade and save the stocks under depletion.
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