In a move to protect the ocean’s apex predators, India has announced a ban on the practice of shark finning that is being applauded around the world.
A huge thank you to Care2 members who signed the petition to ban this horrific practice!
The cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning, which typically involves cutting their fins off and throwing their live bodies back into the water to die a slow and painful death, has grown worldwide and continues to threaten vital shark populations thanks to the demand for the Asian delicacy shark fin soup.
According to a report by the wildlife monitoring agency TRAFFIC, India is the world’s second largest shark-catching nation behind Indonesia. While most of the sharks caught in India are killed for their meat, some are still killed only for their fins. Last year alone, fishermen exported $4.8 million in shark fins to China, reports the AP. Additionally, fishermen on foreign vessels in or just outside of Indian waters have been reported to engage in shark finning, according to the Humane Society International/India.
This week, India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests took action to protect sharks and issued a ‘fins naturally attached’ policy, which some believe is the best and most cost-effective way to enforce a finning ban while also helping with species identification and data collection. Trying to identify a species based solely on its fins has proven to be difficult.
Now, fishermen who are found with detached fins could face up to seven years in prison under the assumption that any fins brought in alone are from a species who is protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, even if they aren’t.
The move was called for by the Humane Society International/India, in collaboration with one of India’s biggest fishing communities, the Deep Sea Going Artisanal Fishermen, and was supported by the Animal Welfare Board of India and other conservation groups over concerns about the brutality of this trade and need to conserve shark species and protect them from unsustainable fishing practices.
“We are overjoyed at India’s decision to adopt a fins naturally attached policy, which experts worldwide agree is necessary to protect sharks from the cruelty of finning. Humane Society International has been campaigning hard to see this policy enacted, and we are delighted authorities have taken this crucial step,” said C. Samyukta, wildlife campaign manager for HSI/India in a statement.
Now it will be on state governments to enforce the new policy, and conservationists are calling for quick action.
“We appreciate the Government of India for taking this positive step to protect sharks by adopting the fins naturally attached policy. It’s now important that this policy is fully enforced to safeguard the welfare of sharks, and to end the inhumane practice of finning in India. This will also provide sharks with a fair chance of survival, which in turns helps to maintain a balanced marine ecosystem,” said Gajender Sharma of the World Society for Protection of Animals.
Photo credit: Thinkstock