Sharks for sale in India

  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2014, 2015
  • Archived
Project type
  • Research

Indian fishermen catch the second largest number of sharks in the world. Dipani and her team are collecting data in manic fish markets to create a baseline understanding of the country’s sharks and how to save them.

Sharks for sale in India

Dipani Sutaria

Project leader
About the project leader

It was a lovely day on the water. A gentle breeze, a calm, deep blue sea with just a slight ripple – a perfect day for scanning the horizon for dolphins. And lo and behold, we caught sight of a mega-pod of spinner dolphins and were soon busy with data sheets, camera, hydrophone, stopwatch and all that jazz. We got back to shore satisfied with our day on the water. At the docking site, our fisher friends were emptying their catches from their gill-net and hook-line fishing boats. I stopped short when I noticed the largest mobulid I had ever...

PROJECT LOCATION : Gujarat and Maharashtra, India
Project details

Understanding shark fisheries and stakeholder roles in shark conservation on the north-west coast of India

Key objective

The general aim of this project is to obtain a robust social, ecological and economic assessment of shark fisheries and attitudes towards shark conservation in the study area.

Why is this important

Shark fisheries in Gujarat and Maharashtra show clear signs of decline. Thus efforts to provide baseline data about these fisheries are extremely crucial for conservation of sharks in the Arabian Sea.


Seventy shark species are found in Indian waters, of which about 18 are commonly caught in commercial fisheries and three are listed as Endangered by the IUCN. The international market for shark fin has been the primary driver behind the unlimited expansion of Indian shark fishing over the past 60 years.

In 2001, the government of India imposed a blanket ban on all shark fishing, but fisher groups retaliated, mainly due to their non-inclusion in the policy’s formulation. More recently, in 2013, CITES recommended the listing of three shark species that are commercially important for India in Appendix II, thus increasing the regulations for these species. Moreover, the Ministry of Environment & Forests-New Delhi (MoEF) has banned all shark finning in national waters through the ‘fins attached’ policy.

Given that India is the second largest harvester of shark products worldwide, stakeholders will need space and time to absorb the recent CITES and MoEF notifications. At the same time, holistic assessments of shark stocks and shark fisheries need to be systematically carried out to conserve and manage shark stocks and diversity for the future. Our project will focus on Gujarat and Maharashtra fisheries, which according to the latest government data (2004), together contribute 46% of total shark catches in India. However, they also show clear signs of decline.

Aims & objectives

The aims and objectives of this project are to:

  • Assess shark landings to identify seasonal differences in species richness, estimate relative abundance of different species caught, and assess the age structure and gender distribution in shark catches to obtain a baseline of shark species involved in the fisheries.
  • Document the shark product commodity chain and the process involved in the shark trade by identifying stakeholders.
  • Document economic drivers of shark fisheries by calculating the proportion of shark catches consumed locally compared to what’s exported, and assessing the economic value additions at each stage of the commodity chain.
  • Document traditional knowledge, local use of shark products, and perceptions towards sharks and shark fisheries to understand social drivers of shark fisheries and factors that influence shark conservation.
  • Establish a network of fishermen to collect data on shark landings.