Project

Tracing Tanzania’s illegal shark product networks

Species
  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2020
Status
  • Active
Project types
  • Conservation
  • Education
  • Research
Description

Cyrus is using DNA barcoding to record which shark species are landed and processed in Tanzania’s fisheries and to improve the taxonomic resolution of finned and processed shark products from the country. With interviews and questionnaires, he hopes to identify the illegal supply networks of protected sharks in Tanzania and provide information that is useful to law enforcement officers.

Tracing Tanzania’s illegal shark product networks

Cyrus Rumisha

Project leader
About the project leader

I grew up in Bukoba in northern Tanzania, about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the littoral zone of Lake Victoria. As I kid, I used to go to the beach with friends to build sand structures, play soccer, swim and sometimes accompany artisanal fishers on fishing trips. During this time, I observed and learned about Nile tilapias, Nile perch, African catfishes, African carps, African lungfish and many other lake fishes. This triggered my interest in aquatic sciences and as I grew up I became more and more interested in understanding and conserving aquatic life. After high school, I attended the...

PROJECT LOCATION : Tanzania
Project details

Exposing the black market of the protected sharks to foster sustainable shark fisheries in Tanzania

Key objective

Our key objective is to expose the black market of the protected sharks in Tanzania using DNA barcoding and foster sustainable shark fisheries through increased awareness of enhanced enforcement.

Why is this important

This project will improve ocean health and promote sustainable shark fisheries in Tanzania.

Illegal fishing has depleted the fishery with some species fished close to the level of extinction. Although measures are taken to control trade and exploitation of endangered sharks, black markets still occur through the trading of processed shark products such as fins, meat, and liver oil. This project will use DNA barcoding to reveal the identity and conservation status of sharks in processed, traded, and landed specimens. Also, it will administer interviews and questionnaires to expose the illegal supply networks of the endangered sharks in order to enhance law enforcement and enable the fishery to recover.

Lastly, it will conduct stakeholder meetings and use mass media to raise awareness and educate the local communities regarding the protected species of sharks and the impacts of illegal fishing. This will reduce illegal fishing and curb black markets of sharks.

Background

Due to rapid growth in the coastal population and frequent droughts, the demand for fishery resources in Tanzania continues to increase. As a result, fish are becoming more scarce, prices are rising, and the incidences of illegal fishing, habitat degradation, and overfishing have increased. Because sharks grow slowly, mature late, and produce few young, the shark fishery has been severely affected. The number and size of the landed sharks have declined in recent decades and many species of sharks are classed as endangered. To ensure that international trade in fins and meat of the endangered sharks does not threaten their survival, more than thirty species of these fish were included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). These fish include the Silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), and the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus), to mention a few. Also, Tanzania has clear legislation on the protection of the endangered sharks and it has ratified several treaties on the protection of the fish. Despite the existence of such regulations, black markets of the endangered sharks still occur through the trading of processed products and the morphologically deformed specimen because they cannot be morphologically identified by law enforcement. This project will use DNA barcoding to identify and reveal the conservation status of species in landed, processed, and traded shark products from Tanzania. Also, interviews and questionnaires will be administered to identify and expose the illegal supply networks of the endangered sharks. Lastly, stakeholder meetings will be conducted to raise the awareness of the stakeholders regarding the banned species. This will help to enhance law enforcement and enable the fishery to recover.

Aims & objectives
  • To identify and reveal the composition and conservation status of species in landed, processed, and traded shark products from Tanzania.
  • To expose the illegal and illicit supply networks of the endangered sharks in Tanzania in order to enhance law enforcement
  • To raise awareness of the stakeholders regarding the protected species of sharks in Tanzania