Some varieties of sharks, considered to be facing a high risk of extinction, do not suffer such threat from fishery in Indian waters and international trade of these species and their by-products can be done, says a study by Indian marine scientists. The study was conducted by scientists of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The findings come when the global conservation agency International Union for Conservation of Nature - IUCN gas recommended increased conservation efforts to save world's sharks and rays species facing extinction. Indian scientists, however, say the trade of hammerhead sharks and oceanic whitetip shark and their by-products can be done with CITES certification, an international agreement between governments, which aims at the sustainability of wild exploited fauna and flora. "From the information available on the fishery and stock status of hammerhead sharks and oceanic whitetip shark in Indian waters, ICAR-CMFRI has found that at present, the fishery does not pose a serious threat to the stocks of these species, provided there is a check on the exploitation of juvenile hammerheads from the inshore waters," says the study. The study is titled "Non-Detriment Findings (NDF) for export of shark and Ray species listed in Appendix II of the CITES and harvested from Indian waters". It says that positive NDFs were therefore recommended and international trade in these sharks and their by-products can be done with CITES certification, subject to existing regulatory laws on shark fin trade implemented by the Indian government. They study, however, says it was not possible to fix recommended harvest levels since the sharks were not targeted by a particular fishing fleet, gear or method, and the landings not consistent throughout the year.
Marine scientist P U Zacharia, a key member of the study team, said scalloped hammerhead shark and great hammerhead shark were listed "endangered" in the IUCN Redlist while smooth hammerhead shark and oceanic whitetip shark are listed "vulnerable". "Increasing fishing pressure in Indian waters and juvenile catch all along the coast are threat for these shark species," he told PTI here. He said the study has also recommended avoiding fishing in juvenile habitats and spawning grounds of these sharks to ensure their better conservation. The average landing of scalloped hammerhead shark, which forms only 0.73 per cent of the total shark landings, along Indian coast was about 621 tonne (2007-15) and their maximum catch was during 2007 (1070 tonne) which decreased to 627 tonne in 2015. "Trawl is the major gear by which the species is caught (dominantly juveniles) followed by gill net and hook and line," Zacharia said. IUCN says the global market for shark fins used in shark fin soup is a major factor in the depletion of not only sharks but also some rays with valuable fins, such as guitarfish. "Sharks, rays and chimaeras are also sought for their meat. Other products from these species include a Chinese tonic made from manta and devil ray gills and pharmaceuticals made from deep sea shark livers," says the IUCN study published in 2014.
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