CMFRI advocates spatial and temporal fishing regulations to protect shark population

Fisheries institute proposes 'shark hotspots' to protect endangered species

2400464901 Shark fishing off the coast of Agatti Island, Lakshadweep | Shutterstock

The ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has unveiled a plan to identify and protect shark hotspots in Indian waters, aiming to safeguard the endangered species from targeted fishing activities. Dr. Shoba Joe Kizhakudan, Head of the Finfish Fisheries Division of the CMFRI, highlighted the urgency of this initiative, emphasising the need to enforce spatial and temporal fishing regulations to combat the overexploitation threatening the survival of sharks in Indian waters.

During a consultative meeting on the conservation of sharks held in Kochi, Dr. Kizhakudan stressed the vulnerability of sharks, noting that they face challenges in reproducing at a rate that can offset the escalating number of deaths each year. The CMFRI reported a concerning 55% decline in the landings of elasmobranch, a group encompassing sharks, rays, and guitarfish, between 2012 and 2022, underscoring the pressing need for conservation efforts.

Director Dr. A Gopalakrishnan emphasised the institute's commitment to understanding the intricate dynamics between fishing activities and other factors impacting shark populations over the next five years. This knowledge, he asserted, will be instrumental in formulating effective conservation, sustainability, and management strategies, ensuring the livelihood security of coastal communities.

This pioneering initiative by the CMFRI marks a significant step forward in the protection of endangered shark species, reflecting a concerted effort to address the pressing issue of overfishing and secure the sustainability of marine ecosystems in Indian waters.

CMFRI has been at the forefront of elasmobranch research, receiving global recognition for its expertise. Notably, the institute has been designated as a CITES Scientific Authority in India, responsible for conducting non-detrimental finding (NDF) studies on CITES-listed marine species. Dr. Gopalakrishnan revealed that CMFRI's annual landing estimates for 121 species of elasmobranchs in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and its researchers' involvement in IUCN Subject Specialist Groups and CITES panels further underscore its leadership in this critical field.

The institute's influence has extended internationally, with the government of Oman seeking technical guidance from CMFRI for their shark and ray research programs, emphasisng the institute's role in advancing conservation efforts on a global scale. 

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