Utilization and trade of sharks and rays in the Andaman Islands, India

Published on
29 September 2022

Utilization and trade of sharks and rays in the Andaman Islands, India

Zoya Tyabji, Rima W. Jabado, Dipani Sutaria


Overfishing is recognized as the most pervasive threat to sharks and rays globally. While there is increasing emphasis on ecological aspects of shark and ray fisheries, socio-economic considerations are often poorly incorporated into management policies. Here, we assess the utilization and trade of sharks and rays across the Andaman Islands by conducting semi-structured interviews with 87 fishers and eight traders. Sharks and rays were exported to supply the meat market in peninsular India and contribute to the international trade in products such as fins, gill plates, and liver oil. A large proportion of fishers (n = 38, 43.67%) consumed sharks and rays due to declines in reef fish, as an accessible and cheap protein source. Small-sized sharks (<1 m total length), juvenile hammerheads, and uniformly coloured rays were preferred for local consumption. Fishers (n = 43, 49.42%) noted the difficulty of relying on profits from shark fishing due to declines in shark populations. However, it was easier to fish and trade rays due to their perceived abundance, few regulations, and increased demand for their products. Traders (n = 7, 87.5%) mentioned a rising demand for ray meat from peninsular India, leading to the development of a targeted ray fishery. Expanding and targeted shark and ray fisheries benefit the stakeholders who have the resources to invest, while affecting the livelihoods of others due to declining local fisheries resources. Our results highlight the need to revise and improve legal frameworks to consider the conservation needs of threatened species and likely impacts on local communities.

Marine Policy, Volume 146, December 2022, 105295, DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2022.105295


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