DNA analysis of elasmobranch products originating from Bangladesh reveals unregulated elasmobranch fishery

Published on
25. September 2019

DNA analysis of elasmobranch products originating from Bangladesh reveals unregulated elasmobranch fishery and trade on species of global conservation concern

Alifa Bintha Haque, Sudipta Arka Das, Aparna Riti Biswas


Trade involving elasmobranch products in Bangladesh is a four-decade-long practice in large scale and there is little understanding of its impact on species composition, population, and subsequent conservation. Capacity for monitoring and identification is lacking in landing and shark processing centres. A rapid survey and collection of tissue samples were performed in three landings and nine shark processing centres between 2016 and 2017 in the south-eastern coastal region of Bangladesh. Sequencing for a 707-bp fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene was used to assess the taxonomic status and species composition from 71 elasmobranch tissue samples collected from the shark processing centre only. Good quality COI sequences were obtained for 34 specimens representing 21 species—the majority of which are threatened with extinction. A total of ten species of sharks (Carcharhinus brevipinna, C. amboinensis, C. leucas, C. sorrah, C. amblyrhynchoides, Chiloscyllium burmensis, Galeocerdo cuvier, Rhincodon typus, Scoliodon laticaudus, and Sphyrna lewini), eleven species of rays (Aetomylaeus maculatus, Gymnura poecilura, Mobula mobular, M. kuhlii, Neotrygon indica, Pateobatis uarnacoides, Rhinoptera javanica, and R. jayakari), including three species of guitarfish (Glaucostegus granulatus, G. obtusus, and G. typus), were identified. Four species (14.7% of samples) were found to be listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Appendix II. Sixteen species (59% of the specimens) were threatened with extinction according to IUCN Red List, whereas 41% were data deficient or not assessed. The results have important implications for the management of regional fisheries and the conservation of elasmobranchs as they 1) represent a preliminary understanding of elasmobranch diversity in trade; 2) depict a lack of awareness and monitoring; and 3) demonstrate a need for urgent monitoring and regulation of elasmobranch trade in Bangladesh.

PLoS ONE 14(9): e0222273. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222273


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