Chennai

Fishy business: Chennai emerges as hub for illegal shark fin trade

Shark fins collected from various parts of the country are exported to Southeast Asian destinations through Chennai, according to Zoological Survey of India and Humane Society International. File photo

Shark fins collected from various parts of the country are exported to Southeast Asian destinations through Chennai, according to Zoological Survey of India and Humane Society International. File photo  

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Shark fins collected across the country are illegally exported through Chennai

The city has emerged as a hub for the illegal export of shark fins.

All the shark fins collected from various parts of the country are exported to Southeast Asian destinations through Chennai, according to Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and Humane Society International (HSI).

ZSI authorities said sharks are harvested primarily for their fins, cartilage and liver. More than 125 countries trade in shark products, resulting in a rapid decline in the number of sharks in the oceans.

According to the Fisheries Survey of India (FSI), local fishermen occasionally catch sharks. The fins are removed and dried, and then sold to an agent who pays the fishermen as per market rate.

A good number of fishermen living in and around Royapuram are involved in this, said FSI officials.

According to data from the Marine Products Export Development Authority, during 2012-13, nearly 90 tonnes of shark fins were exported.

While 75 tonnes were exported to China, another 14 tonnes went to Southeast Asian countries, and nearly a tonne was sent to the U.S.

All the exports were routed through Chennai, said researchers at HSI. Most of the time, fins are exported under the ‘dried fish’ category.

As enforcing agency authorities are unable to identify banned species, it makes the job easier for shark fin exporters.

Fins are the most valuable part of sharks, and are boiled and used in soups. They are processed in Hong Kong or China.

Liver extracts of sharks are used by the pharmaceutical industry and also by cosmetics manufacturers. Shark fin trade began only a decade ago, said ZSI authorities.

A study by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations shows the global trend of shark catches, which stood at 70 lakh tonnes in the 1990s, had touched a whopping 90 lakh tonnes in 2003.

During this period, India was one of the top five countries that contributed to shark fin landings, said ZSI authorities.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2018 3:01:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-emerges-as-hub-for-illegal-shark-fin-trade/article6345385.ece

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