The environment ministry on Friday debarred fishermen from removing shark fins on board of a vessel to enable the enforcement agencies to monitor hunting of the endangered species.
Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan approved a policy prohibiting removal of shark finds on board a vessel in the sea. “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,” a ministry statement read.
The policy also calls for concerted action and implementation by the concerned state governments through appropriate legislative, enforcement and other measures to preventing hunting of sharks and other marine species such as Rays and Skates.
“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 ministry said.
India is known to be home to about 40-60 species of sharks but population of some of these have declined due to several reasons including over exploitation and unsustainable fishing practices. The government has listed ten species of sharks under the Schedule- I of the WildLife (Protection) Act, 1972, thereby, according them the highest degree of protection.
There have been reports that due to high demand of fins in the shark fin-soup industry, the fins of the sharks captured in the mid sea are removed on the vessel and the de-finned sharks are thrown back in the sea to die a painful death.
“This has not only resulted in in-human killing of large number of sharks and in this process, but also has further decimated the population of endangered species,” the ministry said, a reason for banning removal of fins.