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Local drivers of declining shark fisheries in India

Karnad, Divya, Sutaria, Dipani, Jabado, Rima W.
Ambio 2020 v.49 no.2 pp. 616-627
consumer demand, domestic markets, economic impact, fins, fisheries, international trade, issues and policy, juveniles, meat, sharks, surveys, India
This study evaluates local-scale drivers of shark harvests in India, one of the world’s largest shark fishing nations. Focusing on key harbours in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, which together contribute 54% of India’s shark harvest, this study uses a semi-structured survey to examine the practices of shark fishers and traders, their knowledge of shark trade and policy, and perceptions of shark declines. Findings indicate that a domestic market for shark meat is presently the main local driver for harvests rather than the global trade in shark fins. Sharks are mostly non-target catch, landed whole, contributing to the protein needs of coastal communities. Consumer demand is the greatest for small-bodied and juvenile sharks. Perceived steep declines in shark numbers and sizes have had economic impacts on fishers and traders. The unregulated domestic market for shark meat is a key challenge requiring nuanced local approaches that diverge from global shark conservation priorities.