India Gets On Board to #SaveSharks through Public Education Campaign

posted: 06/30/15
by: Danny Clemens
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Six Gill Conservation

India is an important market for shark fishing: in the last decade, almost 10% of sharks caught around the world were caught in Indian waters. In response to growing concerns about the sustainability of commercial fishing and other issues facing sharks, the Indian government has announced a comprehensive shark conservation plan.

Prepared by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the National Plan of Action for Sharks in India highlights two common issues facing conservation activists around the globe: a crippling lack of public awareness and an inadequate understanding of the animals themselves.

As such, the plan lays out a number of measures intended to strengthen public understanding about sharks. The agency aims to develop a shark atlas, a field guide to identify sharks and a national shark museum where "all shark species, shark products and shark fishing methods and conservation strategies are exhibited". A document detailing the use of sharks by indigenous people will also be prepared, in an attempt to reconcile indigenous cultures and conservation strategies.

Whale shark
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Whale sharks were heavily hunted in India until a public education campaign reduced overfishing.

Furthermore, the report emphasizes the need for further shark research, specifically within regional waters. While there are several organizations monitoring the status of threatened and endangered animals worldwide, there is little information regarding specific threats to wildlife within Indian territorial waters.

To combat the growing export of shark fins (which is valued at nearly $15 million USD annually), the government will encourage the "full use" of sharks. Researchers will also work to establish benchmarks to ensure that shark fishing occurs at a sustainable rate.

"Being a major shark fishing nation, it is important that India should evolve a National Plan of Action for sharks and participate actively in their conservation and management," remarked A. Gopalakrishnan, Director of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

"This document assumes importance in the light of the attention shark resources are gaining worldwide and the increasing awareness of the need to ensure their sustainable exploitation and conservation."

The new measures complement previous conservation measures undertaken by the Indian government. The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 established protections for threatened wildlife throughout the country. India is also a signatory to CITES Appendix II, an international agreement that affords protections to approximately 21,000 species (including four species of sharks found in India).

Click here to read the full report


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