Project news

Unveiling the Catch: Hammerhead Sharks in Bangladesh’s Coastal Waters

By Nazia Hossain, 20th February 2024

In Bangladesh’s rich maritime territory, five species of Hammerhead Sharks roam the coastal waters – Eusphyra blochii, Sphyrna lewini, Sphyrna tudes, Sphyrna zygaena, and Sphyrna mokarran. But their presence is increasingly precarious, as the nets of fishermen haul in predominantly juvenile Hammerheads, a testament to the species’ vulnerability. Despite their small size, these juvenile sharks command a significant market value for their fresh and dried meat, contributing to the 1% GDP derived from shark products in Bangladesh.

An active processing centre meticulously dries shark meats for a thriving international market. © Nazia Hossain

The allure of profit has led some fishermen to target Hammerhead Sharks deliberately, adding to the pressure on an already dwindling population. With an estimated 68,000 artisanal boats and 247 industrial trawlers operating in Bangladesh’s waters, the scale of fishing pressure on Hammerheads is formidable.

This relentless exploitation poses a grave threat to the Hammerhead Sharks of the Bay of Bengal. As the second-largest catch among elasmobranchs landed in Bangladesh’s fish landing sites, their declining numbers signal an urgent need for conservation action.

Understanding the fishing pressure, catch trends, and threats faced by Hammerhead Sharks is paramount for evidence-based conservation. Equally important is the perspective of fishermen, whose livelihoods are intricately tied to the health of the marine ecosystem.

A woman from a fishing family diligently engaged in the process of drying shark meat. © Fayed Khan

In the face of these challenges, we are working tirelessly to protect Hammerhead Sharks and their habitat. By raising awareness, advocating for sustainable fishing practices, and engaging with local communities, they strive to secure a future where Hammerhead Sharks can thrive once more in the waters of Bangladesh.

Casual discussion-session with boat owners, highlighting the critical importance of hammerhead shark conservation and management. © Fayed Khan

As the sun sets on another day of fishing, let us remember the silent giants beneath the waves – the Hammerhead Sharks, guardians of the ocean realm, deserving of our respect and protection.

Project See project and more news