Article

Quantification of the Trade in Shark Fins

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  • Sasama Consulting
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... The international trade in wildlife is very poorly documented; species and products involved, trade volumes and trade values are all elements largely data deficient (Roe et al. 2002). The annual reporting requirements of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) recognise the importance of monitoring and regulating trade, and of providing information on the legal trade in species listed by the Convention (Roe et al. 2002;Clarke, 2003;CITES, 2011). However, the trade in CITES-listed species reflects only a very small part of a much larger trade in wildlife resources (CITES, 2011). ...
... The international trade in shark products, coupled with the increasing demand for shark fins, has been recognised as a major driver in the exploitation of worldwide shark populations (FAO, 2009;Clarke, 2003). The well documented decline in shark populations (Baum et al. 2003;Myers and Worm, 2003;Baum and Myers 2004), the vulnerability of sharks to exploitation Stevens et al. 2000) and their importance to the functioning of marine ecosystems , make the analysis of shark fisheries and trade of critical importance. ...
... Trade in shark fins has (recently) expanded on a global scale, with trade through Hong Kong growing at an annual rate of six per cent (Clarke, 2004). This has been linked to increases in disposable income in Mainland China (Clarke, 2003). The increasing demand for shark fins has been accompanied by a significant increase in global prices, resulting in shark fins being one of the most highly valued sea food commodities . ...
... Large predators are becoming scarce on many coral reefs, with fishing thought to be a major factor in declines [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]. Coral reef top predators often command high market prices, providing strong economic incentives for commercial harvesting [8,9]. Major contributors to commercial overharvesting of coral reef predators include the shark fin fishery [8,[10][11][12] and the live reef food fish trade [9,13]. ...
... Coral reef top predators often command high market prices, providing strong economic incentives for commercial harvesting [8,9]. Major contributors to commercial overharvesting of coral reef predators include the shark fin fishery [8,[10][11][12] and the live reef food fish trade [9,13]. Consequently, intensive commercial exploitation has resulted in dramatic declines in reef predators in many locations [4,13], and recent studies suggest even subsistence fishing can deplete reef predators [2,5,6]. ...
Article
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Coral reef habitats in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) are characterized by abundant top-level predators such as sharks and jacks. The predator assemblage is dominated both numerically and in biomass by giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis) and Galapagos sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis). A lower diversity of predatory teleosts, particularly groupers and snappers, distinguishes the PMNM from other remote, unfished atolls in the Pacific. Most coral reef top predators are site attached to a “home” atoll, but move extensively within these atolls. Abundances of the most common sharks and jacks are highest in atoll fore reef habitats. Top predators within the PMNM forage on a diverse range of prey and exert top-down control over shallow-water reef fish assemblages. Ecological models suggest ecosystem processes may be most impacted by top predators through indirect effects of predation. Knowledge gaps are identified to guide future studies of top predators in the PMNM.
... Additional evidence is provided by a comparison of the ratio of the average declared value of unprocessed dried ¢ns with the average declared value of unprocessed`saltedunprocessed`salted or in brine' ¢ns from 1998 onwards. The ratio ranges from 21 to 36% (Clarke 2003). Based on this information, a correction factor of 0.25 was applied. ...
... When asked to explain which types of sharks' ¢ns can be used, traders were somewhat vague about the species' identi¢cation, claiming that many spe cies can be used (all the seven traders interviewed, and others consulted informally (Clarke 2003)). Four traders cited`whalecited`whale' shark ¢ns as valuable, three mentioned`baskingmentioned`basking' sharks and others mentioned`tiger mentioned`tiger' sharks,`brown' sharks and`hammerheadsand`hammerheads'. ...
Article
This study investigates the dried seafood trade, centred in Chinese markets, in order to better understand the pressures its demand exerts on global marine resource stocks. Using Hong Kong, the region's largest entrepôt, as a focal point, the trade in shark fins, abalone, bêche-de-mer and dried fish is characterized in terms of product history, volume, source fisheries and species composition. Trends identified in the Hong Kong market are interpreted in the context of the larger Chinese market. Shark fin imports grew 6% per year between 1991 and 2000, most likely because of market expansion in Mainland China, posing increasingly greater pressures on global shark resources. In contrast, the quantities of dried abalone traded through Hong Kong remained steady, but inferences based on this trend are discouraged by suggestions of increasing preferences for fresh product forms and growing domestic production in Mainland China. Hong Kong's imports of dried bêche-de-mer (sea cucumber) have decreased, while the percentage of imports re-exported has remained steady, suggesting that Hong Kong continues as an entrepôt for Mainland China despite declining domestic consumption. Few conclusions can be drawn regarding dried fish products, including whole fish and fish maws, because of a lack of product differentiation in customs data, but a market survey was conducted to provide information on species composition. Comparison of Hong Kong dried seafood trade statistics to those of other key trading partners indicates that, in general, Hong Kong's duty-free status appears to encourage more accurate reporting of traded quantities. Under-reporting biases ranged from 24 to 49% for shark fin and bêche-de-mer, respectively. Comparison to United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) databases indicates additional under-reporting for shark fin such that an alternative minimum estimate of world trade is at least twice the FAO estimates in 1998–2000. The results of a survey of Hong Kong traders provide insight into their attitudes toward harvest, economic and regulatory factors, and suggest that conservation efforts are unlikely to emerge from, or be actively supported by, dried seafood trade organizations. The market's apparent sensitivity to economic sentiment, however, reveals an opportunity for consumer education to play a role in shaping future market growth and resource conservation. Recommendations are provided for improving trade statistics and for developing better analytical techniques to complement traditional methods for monitoring the exploitation and management of fisheries resources.
... In our interviews, traders stated that hammerhead fins were one of the most valuable fin types in the market. Compilation of market prices from auction records (Clarke 2003) indicated an average, wholesale, unprocessed fin market value of US $135/kg for ''Gu Pian'', $103/kg for ''Bai Chun'' and $88/kg for ''Gui Chun'', indicating a species preference in the trade. Furthermore, a preference (reflected by higher prices) for the lower caudal fins of these species was also apparent. ...
... Lanes 1-10: globally distributed S. zygaena as target. Lane 11, S. mokarran; 12, S. lewini; 13-19, same as in (a).Identifying market and law enforcement-derived finsOne of us (SCC) examined the Hong Kong fin trader auction records for 10,669 fin lots between October 1999 and March 2001(Clarke 2003), and found 11.6% of the lots labeled as the Chinese trade category ''Chun Chi''. To determine the identity of these ''Chun Chi'' fins which trader interviews suggested were derived from hammerheads (species unspecified), we genetically analyzed 94 fins from this category sampled across 13 traders. ...
Article
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The future status of sharks is an issue of widespread conservation concern due to declines in many species in the face of high levels of exploitation to satisfy market demands for products, especially fins. Substantial declines in the large-bodied hammerhead sharks, Sphyrna lewini, S. mokarran and S. zygaena, even in regions where some management occurs, indicate that informed conservation measures are warranted for these circumglobally distributed species. Despite the importance of assessing shark catch and trade on a species-specific basis to detect potential overexploitation of individual species, achieving this goal for hammerheads has proven elusive due to difficulties in identification of their products. Here, we present the development and application of a diagnostic, streamlined, five-primer multiplex polymerase chain reaction assay utilizing species-specific primers based on nuclear ribosomal ITS2 for the three hammerhead species throughout their global distribution. Application of this assay to investigations of the fin market confirmed the presence of hammerhead fins in the international trade. A study of the world’s largest fin market in Hong Kong revealed a high concordance between specific Chinese-name trade categories and fins from these three species (“Bai Chun” with S. lewini, “Gui Chun” with S. zygaena and “Gu Pian” with S.␣mokarran), and clear species preferences. This concordance information allows the use of market records for monitoring species-specific trends in trade and exploitation rates. The assay is also proving useful for identification of shark body parts in U.S. fisheries law-enforcement activities. Screening of morphologically identified “ S. lewini” from globally distributed areas using this assay with subsequent whole ITS2 sequencing suggests a cryptic species closely related to S. lewini occurs off the SE USA coast.
... In South East Asia, most shark fisheries are sparsely documented. Only scarce and fragmented records of the southern China shark fisheries exist in the published literature (Parry-Jones 1996;Zhou et al. 1996;Vannuccini 1999;Clarke 2003), and also some reports in Chinese (Wu and Zheng 1982;Yang 1992;Lin 1995a,b;Qiu and Qiu 1997); yet this region contains species that are endangered Sharks of South East Asia V Y Y Lam and Y Sadovy de Mitcheson worldwide, among them the whale shark (Rhincodon typus, Rhincodontidae), the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias, Lamnidae) and the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus, Cetorhinidae). According to Vannuccini (1999), around a quarter of the world's shark species (110 species) occur in China. ...
... As the world's most important centre for shark fin trade (Parry-Jones 1996), Hong Kong handles around half of the global shark fin trade products (Clarke 2004). With an increasing number of scientists being concerned of the fate of the sharks due to their vulnerability to overexploitation and heavy pressure to exploit them, various studies have been conducted to better understand the role of trade and consumption of shark fins in the region (Parry-Jones 1996; Clarke 2003Clarke , 2004Clarke et al. 2006). The volume of shark fin imports has been increasing steadily, with sources of fins coming from all over the world: a total of 86 countries were reported in year 2000 (Clarke 2002). ...
Article
Sharks fisheries have declined globally due to over- and unregulated fishing. As with many collapsed and unmonitored coastal fisheries, information is difficult to obtain, yet it is important to understand the historical changes determining population trends and evaluate the current status of sharks in order to conserve these vulnerable species. Here, we document for the first time the history and general condition of the shark fisheries of Southern China, specifically Hong Kong, and Guangdong, Fujian and Hainan Provinces. This study shows, through the use of historical literature and anecdotal accounts, including fisher interviews, that all known shark fisheries in the region collapsed between the 1970s and the 1990s. Of the 109 species present historically in the South China Sea, only 18 species were recorded in current market surveys, of which all were landed as bycatch and 65% were below the size of sexual maturity. Markets are dominated by smaller species, including the spadenose shark (Scoliodon laticaudus) and the whitespotted bambooshark (Chiloscyllium plagiosum). Marketed large shark species are almost all below the size of sexual maturation, evidence of growth overfishing and a factor in recruitment overfishing. Some species, like the whale (Rhincodon typus) and basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus), are clearly vulnerable to local extinction without intervention. Given the inherent vulnerability of sharks and the overfished states of many sharks, there is clearly an urgent need to formulate impacting conservation and management plans for these rapidly declining species in a region that has the highest demand for shark products globally.
... Price data from INFOFISH suggests that full sets of oceanic whitetip sharks are more highly valued than blue shark and blue shark are more highly valued than shortfin mako. Observations in Hong Kong auctions indicate that, in general, lower caudal fins are the most valuable fins followed by pectoral and dorsal fins and then all other fins (Clarke 2003). ...
Technical Report
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European fleets are among the world’s leaders in fishing for sharks, reporting over 13% of global landings to the FAO in 2004. The most valuable parts of most sharks are their fins, which are a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. Shark meat is less profitable, which results in a strong economic incentive to cut off the fins and discard the carcass back into the sea, a practice called shark “finning”. In June 2003, the Council of the European Union adopted a Regulation on the removal of shark fins on-board vessels, which was intended to prevent the practice of shark finning within the European fleet (one of the world’s largest shark fishing entities). The European Commission reviewed the finning regulation in December 2005, stimulating significant debate in the European Parliament on its efficacy and whether the measures in force were fit for the purpose. An expert workshop, funded by the Lenfest Ocean Program, was convened in Brussels in October 2006 by the Shark Alliance to contribute towards shark fisheries management discussions in Europe. The purpose of the workshop was to describe and compare available data about shark fisheries, markets, trade and biology, and to develop science-based recommendations regarding precautionary and science-based conversion rates for shark products, particularly fin to carcass ratios or other methods that might be used to prevent the practice of shark finning. This document is the report of that workshop. http://eulasmo.org/blog/european-shark-fisheries/
... Accurate conversion factors between fin weight and body weight are thus necessary not only as a management tool to prevent shark finning, but also as an alternate estimation method of total catch. Indeed, the 2004 ICCAT assessment of blue and mako sharks (ICCAT 2005) considered scenarios that reconstructed total catches of these two species based on the Hong Kong shark fin trade (Clarke 2003) and several assumed conversion ratios. In developing conversion factors from fin weight to body weight, it is vital to clearly document the fins used in the calculation because different nations (or regions in a nation) or fisheries/fleets may use different sets of fins or even finning (cutting) procedures that will affect the fin to carcass ratio. ...
Article
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SUMMARY We assessed the validity of the continued use of the 5% fin weight to carcass weight ratio using available data from various fishery-independent and fishery-dependent sources. The fin to carcass ratio is highly variable, depending on species, fin set, and finning procedure. Ratios (fin weight (FW) to dressed carcass weight (DW)) range from 2.5% for the silky shark, Carcharhinus falciformis (n = 19) to 5.3% for the sandbar shark, C. plumbeus (n = 39) for the primary fin set (dorsal fin, both pectoral fins, and the lower lobe of the caudal fin). Two fishery- dependent sources report average FW:DW ratios of 4.9% and 4.5% for all species combined, whereas two fishery-independent sources report lower averages of 3.7% and 3.8% for the combined species. This may be due to differential processing of sharks by fishermen vs. researchers. Owing to the high variability among species, species-specific management would help ensure that finning (defined here as retaining only the fins and discarding the remainder of the body) does not occur on species with lower FW:DW ratios as a result of fishermen trying to meet the 5% FW:DW allowance. If species-specific management is not feasible, the available data suggest that the aggregated 5% ratio is not inappropriate when using the primary fin set in the calculations. In all, the only guaranteed method to avoid shark finning is to land sharks with all fins attached. RÉSUMÉ
... As incomes increase in rapidly developing countries, like China, the demand for wild products increases. For example, study conducted by Clarke (2003) in Guangdong, China found that an 80% increase in shark fin consumption could be attributed to rising income. The rising demand for exotic and luxury items is largely attributed to a population growth and burgeoning affluence in East Asia (TRAFFIC, 2008). ...
Research
The illegal wildlife trade is a significant threat to both human and non-human populations worldwide. There is increasing recognition that the multi-faceted and clandestine illegal wildlife market has widespread effects that span environmental, security, economic, and social dimensions both locally and across the globe. Despite widespread recognition of the problem, both the research and policy often overlook and simplify the complexities of IWT. While this global trade is a direct result of human activity, the social dimensions of illegal wildlife trade are often ignored or overshadowed by the literature's focus on regulatory control measures. This paper aims to review the literature on the social dimensions of illegal wildlife trade and draw attention to the importance of filling the remaining gaps with a more comprehensive understanding of the trade. The underlying argument of this paper is that in order to change the behavior of illegal wildlife consumers, it is imperative that we understand the drivers and motivations of human behavior as it pertains to IWT. This paper builds upon previous suggestions that conservation researchers should engage more fully with the social sciences in understanding and working to curb the illicit trade in our world’s flora and fauna.
... Yet there is great uncertainty surrounding these calculations, and there are no estimates of numbers discarded alive and numbers actually killed, although given the common practice of nning among tuna shermen it is likely that most sharks caught eventually die. Indeed, Clarke (2003) estimated that silky sharks are probably the second most important species (after blue sharks) supporting the Hong Kong n trade. Furthermore, suspected misidenti cation between silky and blacktip (C. ...
Chapter
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The silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), an inhabitant of coastal and oceanic waters in tropical regions, is among the world's most abundant and cosmopolitan shark species. It is caught in significant numbers in directed shark fisheries throughout its range and is an important bycatch in tropical tuna fisheries. On the basis of differences in life-history parameters, it is possible to identify at least three distinct populations inhabiting the Northwest Atlantic, the western-central Pacific, and the eastern Pacific. Data from the Indian Ocean are too sketchy to derive conclusions about a distinct population in this area. Silky sharks grow larger and mature at larger sizes in the Northwest Atlantic than in the western-central and eastern Pacific. Many populations mate and give birth during late spring and summer, but others do not have a well-defined reproductive season. Silky sharks are born after a 9- to 12-month gestation period and are thought to have 1 year of rest between pregnancies. Litter sizes range from 1 to 16 young, but are more commonly of 6-12 young. Estimates of age at maturity range from 4 to 10 years for males and from 7 to 12+ years for females; maximum estimated age is 22+ years. Given their importance for fishing communities worldwide and the increasing trend in shark catches, silky shark populations should be constantly monitored to assure their conservation and wise management.
... First, illegal trade of white shark fins is clearly occurring; the heretofore absence of well-substantiated records for white shark fins in trade may be partly due to the relative rarity of this species in nature, absence of speciesspecific monitoring, and the secretive nature of the fin trade, especially for protected species. Second, the existence of a valued (possibly specialized) market for white shark fins is suggested by the possession of a number of fin-sets separated by species of origin by a major commercial dealer (Hong Kong fin traders typically don't sort low value fins into separate categories (Clarke 2003)). Furthermore, it is unlikely that a major dealer would risk purchase and commerce of fins from a high-profile, legislatively protected species without sufficient economic incentive (i.e. ...
Article
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Great white sharks are protected by national legislation in several countries, making this species the most widely protected elasmobranch in the world. Although the market demand for shark fins in general has continued to grow, the value and extent of utilization of white shark fins in trade has been controversial. We combine law enforcement with genetic profiling to demonstrate that illegal trade in fins of this species is occurring in the contemporary international market. Furthermore, we document the presence of fins from very young white sharks in the trade, suggesting a multiple-use market (food to trophies) exists for fins of this species. The presence of small fins in the trade contradicts the view that white shark fins have market value only as large display trophies, and not as food. Our findings indicate that effective conservation of protected shark species will require international management regimes that include monitoring of the shark fishery and trade on a species-specific basis.
... For example, females mature at 14 years old and have an average of only 20 pups per litter, thus making its stocks harder to rebuild when overexploited (Costa et al., 2002;Barreto et al., 2016b). In addition, this species is also showing signs of decline around the world (Clarke, 2003;Cortés, Brown & Beerkircher, 2007;Stevens, 2008;Mejuto et al., 2013;Cortés et al., 2015;Barreto et al., 2016b). ...
Article
Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) are rare, and highly important sites to the life history of a number of declining shark species are endangered by fishing. The high diversity of sharks caught by fisheries is difficult to monitor due to the scarcity of information on species-specific biological aspects (growth, maturity and fertility rate). There are two EBSAs off north-eastern Brazil, where key species are caught, more specifically the oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus), mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), blue (Prionace glauca) and silky (Carcharhinus falciformis) sharks. Another 23 species displaying low frequency in catches have also been recorded, many of them considered threatened according to the IUCN Red List and the Brazilian Ministry of Environment. The main purpose of this study was to generate information about shark diversity and demonstrate the role of the two EBSAs in their conservation. After analysing fishing data collected from 2000 to 2011, maps were built to categorize shark species by phases of their ontogenetic development (neonate, young and adult) based on samples of C. falciformis (n = 330), C. longimanus (n = 440), I. oxyrinchus (n = 452) and P. glauca (n = 8,176). Shark stocks comprised mainly juveniles, which raises concerns since they are considered a crucial life stage for the sustainability of shark populations. Catch monitoring also highlighted that several of the species caught are threatened and their catch is either prohibited or limited according to the Brazilian laws and international rules in place. Action plans and enforcement of laws and rules are needed to deliver the protective measures needed for shark species in these EBSAs.
Chapter
Abstract Indonesia’s catches of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) grew rapidly from the 1970s, driven mainly by the demand for shark fins, and by the beginning of the twenty-first century Indonesia was the world’s leading elasmobranch producer. The Indonesian fishery is effectively an open access one and overfishing has led to declining yields in Indonesian waters. Fishers have pushed the geographical catch frontier outwards and this has led to illegal fishing, especially in the Australian Fisheries Zone. Traditionally small scale fishers utilised most of the sharks for food and value-processes including the production of leather, but a large amount of shark is caught as by-catch in industrial fisheries for high value species such as tuna and this has increased the frequency of ‘finning’, a wasteful and cruel practice. The competition from industrial fishing has adversely impacted small scale fishers and their families; the main beneficiaries of the lucrative shark fin trade have been boat owners and traders rather than fishers and their families. A National Plan of Action is needed but complicated by fiscal constraints and the division of powers between the national, Kabupaten (district/regency) and provincial governments. Governance failures in fisheries are unfortunately a widespread problem in the Indo-Pacific Region. Keywords Historical knowledge · Indonesia · Elasmobranch fisheries · Shark fins · Artisanal fisheries
Chapter
The shark catch component of pelagic fisheries in Hawaii and the US western Pacific region (WPR) is summarized for longline, troll, handline, and purse-seine gears. There is little market demand for shark flesh in the WPR, and most sharks were retained for their fins only until State of Hawaii and federal bans in 2000 ended this practice. Shark catches in the Hawaii longline fishery have declined from a peak in the early 1990s, because of increased targeting of deep-swimming tunas and a ban on shallow-set longline fishing for swordfish. Catch rates of blue and thresher sharks in this fishery have also declined, while mako shark catch per unit effort (CPUE) has been more variable, increasing up to 1998 and then declining. Pelagic shark catches in Hawaii troll and handline fisheries peaked in the early 1990s and declined thereafter. This drop in catches was also matched by a decrease in CPUE in both troll and handline fisheries. Recently implemented and planned shark management measures in the WPR include revision of the Pelagic Management Unit to include only nine species of pelagic sharks, and a possible trip limit for all longline-caught pelagic sharks other than blue sharks in the Hawaii longline fishery.
Chapter
The blue shark (Prionace glauca) is widely distributed in the world's oceans. For an elasmobranch, it is relatively productive, giving birth to an average of 30 pups after a 9- to 12-month gestation. Annual fecundity is uncertain, but individual females may breed every year. The young are usually born in spring and summer, and the pupping and nursery areas seem to be located in transition zones where there is a large prey biomass for the juveniles. Growth is relatively rapid, with males maturing at 4-6 years and females at 5-7 years. The blue shark diet consists mainly of small pelagic fish and cephalopods, particularly squid. Relative abundance is generally lowest in equatorial waters and increases with latitude. Distinct sex and size segregation is evident, with size generally decreasing with increasing latitude. Blue sharks are highly migratory, with complex movement patterns related to reproduction and to the distribution of prey. Tagging studies have shown extensive movements with numerous transoceanic migrations; distance moved increases with age. Blue sharks are a major bycatch of longline and gill-net fleets, but because of poor reporting, the magnitude of the catch and mortality is not reflected by official statistics, and the limited population assessments carried out to date do not indicate major impacts on their populations. A number of blue shark populations are thought to be stable despite heavy fishing pressure.
Chapter
IntroductionThe need for oceanic shark research and managementEvaluating the conservation status of open ocean sharksThe future of oceanic sharksReferences
Chapter
Pelagic sharks are caught throughout the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, and total elasmobranch catches reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization averaged around 261,000 metric tons (t) per ocean basin per year from 1988 to 2002. Reported chondrichthyan catches increased during the 1980s and 1990s, particularly in the Indian Ocean, although the increase may be partially explained by improved data collection. In 2002, only 26% of the chondrichthyan catches in the Atlantic, 11% in the Pacific, and 7% in the Indian Ocean were identified to species. Of the identified catches, 28% in the Atlantic, 23% in the Pacific, and 55% in the Indian Ocean were of pelagic sharks. Few fishing nations report the species composition of their shark catches or landings, obscuring which countries are engaged in pelagic shark fishing and, thus, where management efforts are needed. However, on the basis of total reported elasmobranch landings, the size of tuna and billfish fisheries, and importance in the Hong Kong shark fin trade, as well as other factors, the following countries are believed to be responsible for the majority of the world's pelagic elasmobranch landings: Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and the United States. This chapter summarizes what is known about pelagic shark fisheries by ocean basin and for the 22 major shark-fishing nations, which together accounted for 82% of the global elasmobranch landings (843,413 t) in 2002, and highlights gaps, problems, and inconsistencies in the shark catch data that make it difficult to evaluate the impact of fisheries on open ocean sharks.
Chapter
Introduction Management tools available for pelagic sharks International and regional management action Domestic management action Conclusions Recommendations
Chapter
Commercial fishing poses the greatest human-induced threat to open ocean elasmobranchs. Most fisheries fail to report species-specific landings and discards; this lack of data has precluded adequate population assessments, with the exception of that for the Northwest Atlantic porbeagle population. However, on the basis of fisheries trend data that are available, declines of 50-90% in catch rates over the past few decades have occurred, consistent with moderate to severe population declines for pelagic sharks in most waters. In addition, most pelagic elasmobranchs have been evaluated for inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: All three thresher species, white sharks, longfin and shortfin mako, porbeagle, and oceanic whitetip sharks are listed as globally Vulnerable, and blue sharks as Near Threatened. Most assessments to date suggest that pelagic sharks cannot sustain current fishing pressures and that precautionary fishery management measures to reduce mortality are needed immediately to help restore these populations.
Chapter
In 1999, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Committee of Fisheries adopted the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks). Since 2001, the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, with assis tance from TRAFFIC, has been monitoring its implementation and reporting back to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Most countries have made little or no progress with implementation. To date, of 113 States reporting elasmobranch landings to FAO, only 8 have adopted their National Plan of Action for Sharks, and at least 16 more have theirs drafted. The few available national and regional Shark Plans vary widely in quality, with many failing to meet some of the recommended standards. This chapter describes the debates and policies that resulted in the adoption of the IPOA-Sharks, reviews progress since 1999, and highlights its relevance in improving the management status of pelagic sharks.
Technical Report
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Executive Summary Madagascar’s extensive (~6,500 km) coastline comprises the most diverse and extensive shallow marine habitats in the Western Indian Ocean, supporting an estimated 123 shark and ray species. Sharks have featured in Madagascar’s fisheries for at least 100 years, with exports recorded as early as the 1920’s. Globally, shark fins are one of the most highly valued seafood items and represent a critical and significant source of cash for some of Madagascar’s isolated fishing communities. The global shark fin trade is estimated to be worth between US$400-500 million a year. Increases in the shark trade over the last two decades is closely linked to economic growth in China, where the market is concentrated, and the ripple effects of this increase in demand have been felt worldwide. Scientific estimates for the number of sharks killed annually can be up to 100 million individuals and sharks are on the whole overexploited. Today, thirty percent of all shark and ray species are now classified as ‘Threatened’ or ‘Near Threatened’ with extinction according to the IUCN Red List, although this number is likely to be higher given that the status of almost half (47%) of shark species cannot be scientifically assessed due to a lack of data. There is strong evidence that shark overexploitation occurs in Malagasy waters and that shark populations in the area are declining rapidly. Although reliable figures on Madagascar’s domestic shark fishery are sparse, anecdotal observations report declines in shark numbers within the last two decades. According to national studies based only on official export data, recorded shark fin exports stood at approximately 32 tonnes in 2010, a decrease from 65 tonnes in 1994. Lack of data on catches, particularly from artisanal fisheries, bycatch by licensed industrial vessels, and by illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing by foreign industrial vessels, means these official export figures are likely to be gross underestimates of the actual production. Madagascar’s shark fishery is comprised of three main fisheries according to Malagasy legislation: artisanal, traditional and industrial fisheries. Madagascar’s artisanal and traditional shark fisheries extend along the entire west coast, with the most important traditional fisheries along the southwest coast. Overfishing has led to fisher migration, spreading the fishery along the entire west coast and also much of the north. There is no established traditional shark fishery along the east coast due to adverse sea conditions, whilst the south is the least developed of all sites surveyed for this report. Throughout the country, surveyed fishers report catching shark for the purposes of income from selling fins (88%) and meat (77%), and as a source of food (31%), demonstrating the important link to the international shark fin trade. Shark fin exports reach the international market mostly through two principal buyers and exporters, namely the Sea Reine and Sin Hing, Chinese companies based in Antananarivo. The supply chain for shark fins is both complex and rather fluid with fishers selling either fresh (wet) or dried fins to collectors and fins graded in value according to size and quality. Some fishers bypass the local collectors and sell dried fins directly to main buyers in larger towns to obtain a better price, which can be a mark-up of 40% for high quality fins. The value of shark fins during the study period (2012) varies according to their condition (wet or dried), quality (four recognised grades) and their position in the supply chain. Robust data was collected for the first two levels of the supply chain but was lacking for the higher levels (main buyer to exporter). Guitarfish fins were on the whole, twice as valuable as shark fins and therefore both in demand and a fishing target. Since 2012 the average value of shark fins has dropped. Trade in shark meat is also well establishedin Madagascar, with meat sold into a supply chain that serves mainly local and national (provincial) markets but can also be exported to the Comoros. Shark meat does not fetch a high price compared to other fish or meats but can be an important supplementary source of income or nutrition in some cases. Generally fresh meat is sold and consumed locally whilst dried salted meat is bought by collectors and transported to inland urban markets in Madagascar. Some dried shark meat is also exported.
Article
In this review, shark-fin-to-body-mass ratios, which have been legislated by several countries as a means of regulating and monitoring shark fisheries, have been compiled and reviewed. Observed and legislated wet-fin-mass-to-round-mass (M(fw) :M(r) ) ratios have been collected for 50 species and eight countries. Wet to dry-fin mass conversion factors have also been reviewed. Existing shark fishery legislation was compiled by political entity and regional fishery management organizations (RFMO). The mean observed M(fw) :M(r) ratio for all species was 3·0%, but actual fin to body-mass ratios varied considerably by species and location. Species-specific mean ratios ranged from 1·1 to 10·9%, and estimated mean ratios ranged from 1·5 to 6·1% by country, depending on fin-cutting practices and the mix of exploited species. The mean conversion factor for wet to dry-fin mass was 0·43. Shark-related legislation was found to exist in 37 countries and the 22 maritime members of the European Union, and shark-related regulations have been designated by nine RFMOs. Results suggest that currently regulated ratios may not be appropriate for all species and fin-cutting practices, and regulations based on generalized ratios for all sharks may be inadequate. Alternative policies may be necessary for the effective management of global shark fisheries.
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