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Tamil Nadu Tops Illegal Trade in Shark Body Parts

Tamil Nadu dominates the illegal trade in shark body parts, comprising nearly 65% of seizures between January 2010 and December 2022, as per a recent analysis by TRAFFIC and WWF-India. This alarming trend poses a significant threat to marine biodiversity, with Karnataka, Gujarat, Kerala, and Maharashtra also contributing to this illicit trade.

Key Findings

  • TRAFFIC and WWF-India conducted a comprehensive study titled ‘Netted in illegal wildlife trade: Sharks of India’.
  • The confiscated shark products were intended for destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and mainland China.
  • The global demand for shark fins, primarily for shark-fin soup, remains a major driver of illegal shark fisheries.

Concerns of Overfishing

  • Sharks play a crucial role in marine ecosystems as apex predators, regulating various marine species’ populations.
  • Overfishing, combined with sharks’ low biological productivity, elevates their risk of extinction.
  • Despite 160 reported shark species in India, only 26 are granted the highest protection status under wildlife protection laws.

Challenges and Threats

  • The illegal shark trade poses a grave conservation threat, exacerbated by misdeclaration of species on permits.
  • Inadequate monitoring mechanisms hinder the differentiation between legal and illegal shark trade.
  • Identifying shark fins accurately remains a challenge due to the multitude of potential shark species in trade.


  • TRAFFIC has developed 3D-printed replica fins to aid law enforcement agencies in identifying dried and unprocessed fins.
  • A new 3D Shark Fin Identification Guidebook has been published, focusing on 11 commercially traded shark and ray species.
  • WWF-India and TRAFFIC collaborate closely to distribute resources and knowledge to enforcement agencies across India’s coastal regions, airports, and seaports.

WWF India’s Role

  • Established in 1969, WWF India aims to mitigate environmental degradation and foster harmony between humans and nature.
  • Through science-based approaches, WWF India addresses various conservation issues, including species and habitat preservation, climate change, and environmental education.

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