Mangaluru, Nov 21, 2014: Excessive exploitation of fish along all of India’s coast line has drastically reduced the shark population by a high 45 % in the last decade, threatening to eliminate 17 species from the seas.
Experts speaking at the ‘Third Mission on Conservation of Sharks’ held on November 20, Thursday, presented these findings and called for the creation of marine sanctuaries for these endangered creatures.
An analysis of shark catch at harbours and ports reveals that over 90 per cent of sharks caught were below mature age: that is, they were killed before they had a chance to breed, said Shobha J.K., senior scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute – Chennai. The biggest impact of over-fishing will be on around 17 species of shark.
To protect shark species — many of which are listed as ‘endangered’ — the institute is looking to define a “minimum size” per species, so that when it is caught, fishermen can determine if the shark has attained maturity level or not. The institute is also looking at means to protect specific breeding grounds of sharks.
Deputy Inspector General of Forests (Wildlife),Ministry of Environment and Forest sand Climate Change M L Srivastava said tha t10 criticallyendangered species of sharks and manta rays have alreadybeen included in the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Karnataka Fisheries Development Corporation M D, V K Shetty stressed the need for creating sanctuaries for the endangered sharks pecies. Laws should be strengthened to preserve the species he said.
Speaking to media on the sidelines of the meeting, National Fish workers Forum Secretary T Peter said that officials have little knowledge on conservation of marine species. The international agreements are signed by the officials without consulting fishermen nor involving them in the correct methodology.