India has today announced a ban on finning sharks at sea. This will mean that all sharks must be landed with their fins attached. A statement from the Environment Ministry said “The policy prescribes that any possession of shark fins that are not naturally attached to the body of the shark would amount to “hunting” of a schedule I species… Sharks, Rays and Skates (Elasmobranchs) are an important part of the marine ecosystem. They play an important the role in maintenance of the marine ecosystem like tigers and leopards in the forests.”
The ban on finning sharks will allow the ministry to more effectively monitor exactly how many sharks, and of what species, are being caught. The new policy also calls upon state governments to legislate to prevent the hunting of shark species protected under the WildLife (Protection) Act, 1972, and to effectively enforce laws.
As India is the second largest catcher of sharks in the world (according to self-reported data published by the UN) it is hoped that this ban on shark finning will mark a turning point for shark conservation in the region.