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India bans practice of shark finning

A spotted ragged-tooth sharkIndian government has banned the practice of finning sharks that is, the practice of hunting sharks for only their fins as per reports.

The fins are a delicacy abroad in countries such as China and there is little local consumption in India with almost all of it meant for export. Sharks were hunted and fins were removed. The finless shark would then be thrown off back into the water and would die a slow and painful death. The price of fins is slightly higher than shark meat.

Fishermen now found indulging in such a practice will be liable for seven years of imprisonment.

Fins that are not naturally attached to the body of the shark, would now amount to hunting under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Since it is difficult to identify the fish without the entire body available, a decision was taken to ban finning in order to protect the species. Some species have been listed in the Schedule-I of WLPA. Inclusion in schedules provides a degree of protection from hunting to the listed species.

Shark finning
Diagram of a shark, highlighting the fins that are typically removed in finning. Image Source: Grolltech

As per TRAFFIC (a global wildlife trade monitor) and the Pew Environment Group, India comes a  second on a list of the top 20 shark-catching nations. The Moef had earlier also imposed a ban but it was revoked in 2004.

The fins are chopped off from sharks that are still alive and the fish is dumped back into the sea and all this simply to reduce weight on the vessel.

Conservationists have frequently pointed out the important role played by sharks in balancing the food chain in the oceans. They keep the numbers of other species in check and weed out the sick, injured and dying .

Reference and further reading;

The Hindu

Read more on Sharksavers.org

Image credit –Shark

Image Credit –Shark Finning Schematic

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