Ocean News

Guide to identifying shark fins

8th March 2013

Dr. Demian Chapman of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University has published a shark fin identification guide aimed at aiding enforcement and customs personnel in the identification of the first dorsal fins of five shark species heavily targeted for their fins. An estimated 26-73 million sharks are killed each year to supply the global shark fin trade.

Many experts agree that it is necessary to monitor the trade in fins of five shark species of concern: oceanic whitetip, porbeagle and three species of hammerhead sharks (scalloped, smooth and great). These species are globally distributed, large-bodied and their fins are traded internationally in large numbers. Four of the species have at least one population listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In addition, four of the species are subject to conservation and management measures in one or more regional fisheries management organizations. All of these species have also at some point been proposed for inclusion on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The guide can be accessed online here, and downloadable PDF versions in several languages are also available. For more information about how healthy shark populations are vital in maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem, see our threat page on predator loss.