Targeted shark fisheries, DNA barcoding and regulating shark fin trade in Indonesia

paper8Published online on 11. April 2015

Targeted shark fisheries, DNA barcoding and regulating shark fin trade in Indonesia

Vincent Nijman


It is challenging to identify shark fins to the individual species level given that sharks are mostly ‘definned’ at sea, removing the fins and discarding the bodies, with the dried fins being sold to wholesalers. Recently, Sembiring et al. (2015, Fish Res 164:130–134) successfully applied DNA barcoding to identify 40 species of sharks in the Indonesian shark fin trade. Their findings of a high frequency of globally threatened sharks and a predominance of pelagic sharks entering these shark markets was argued to be a wakeup call to the Indonesian Government to better enforce existing fisheries regulations and to expand the management of shark fisheries as to protect ecologically important threatened shark species. Recent national and international developments go some way towards potentially improving the prospects of sharks in Indonesia. As of September 2014, three of the species recorded by Sembiring et al. (Sphyrna lewini, S. zygaena, and Carcharhinus longimanus, making up 15% of their sample) have been included Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), regulating all international trade. In the absence of a Non-detriment Finding, demonstrating sustainable levels of trade, in December 2014 a Ministerial Decree was issued on the prohibition of export of these species from Indonesia for a 1-year period. Indonesia is now in the process of setting quotas, which will be subdivided to the provincial level, allowing registered traders to resume shark fin exports. Given the difficulties with species identification of shark fins it is unclear how the current ban and future quotas will be enforced (Indonesia exported almost 1 million kg of shark fins in 2012 making DNA barcoding unlikely to be practical) but most likely will rely on exporter’s self-reporting.

Fisheries Research, Volume 168, August 2015, Pages 33–34



Leave a Reply