Mumbai: Huge number of blacktip sharks illegally found in fishing docks
While the meat of blacktip shark is consumed by people, no one actually knows what happens to the fins of the shark which is in very high demand in the international market
Is the sale of banned shark fins still illegally in the black market? This is the question members of the fishing community has been asking after it was observed that in the last few days the amount of blacktip shark fish catch in the fishing docks has seen a huge increase. While the meat of blacktip shark is consumed by people, no one actually knows what happens to the fins of the shark which is in very high demand in the international market.
It has been observed that in the last few days there has been an increase in blacktip shark landings in fishing markets or docks like Sassoon Dock, Versova, Palghar, Malvan and other places. Members from the fishermen community also told mid-day that the blacktip shark is found in abundance on the east and west coast of Mumbai.
Ganesh Nakhwa, vice-president of Maharashtra Purse Seine Fishing Welfare Association, said, "While there is a ban on the sale of shark fins, the blacktip shark is meat is eaten by many people as the fish is available in the market in abundance. The bigger question is what happens to the shark fins? As it has a huge demand in the global market, there must be some people who might be illegally smuggling out the shark fins."
Nakha also feels that the people should prevent eating this particular species of fish so that when the demand goes down the supply too will decrease. "If the blacktip shark is being caught accidentally then it is understood but the species should not be specifically targeted. The ministry of commerce trade list clearly mentions that the sale of any shark fins is banned as per the law.
It may be noted that last year Directorate of Revenue Intelligence(DRI) had busted an international wildlife smuggling racket and had seized around 8000 kgs of shark fins from Mumbai and the coastal town of Veraval in Gujrat. A total of four arrests were also made by the authorities.
Shark fin is in high demand in the international market and it is used to prepare soup in China and Vietnam. India is home to 40- 60 species of sharks, many of them assessed as threatened, ten species of the critically endangered Sharks and Rays are listed under the Schedule-I of the Act accorded them the highest degree of protection.
In the past, it has also been noticed that a large number of sharks have been decimated by the act of 'finning' on-board the vessel in the mid-sea, and the 'de-finned' sharks are subsequently disposed of in the sea.
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Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change(MoEF&CC) has already approved a policy on "shark finning" which prohibits the removal of fins on board a vessel in the sea. The policy also clearly states that possession of shark fins would amount to "hunting" of a Schedule I species under the Wildlife Protection Act.
A government notification by Finance Ministry in 2015 had prohibited export of shark fins of all species.
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