London: Indonesia and India were today named as the world's biggest shark catchers, with over 20 per cent of global catches between 2002 and 2011, in an EU-backed probe to protect seven threatened species of sharks and rays.
The study examines how implementation of trade controls through CITES regulations can ensure that seven species of sharks and manta rays are only sourced sustainably and legally before entering international trade.
The two countries are alone responsible for more than fifth of global shark catches between 2002 and 2011, according to the study by TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network.
The Top 20 shark catchers in descending order are Indonesia, India, Spain, Taiwan, Argentina, Mexico, US, Malaysia, Pakistan, Brazil, Japan, France, New Zealand, Thailand, Portugal, Nigeria, Iran, Sri Lanka, Republic of Korea and Yemen, who between them account for nearly 80 per cent of the total shark catch reported globally.
Three EU Member States - Spain, France and Portugal - are among the top 20 shark catchers, responsible for 12 per cent of global catches and, collectively, the 28 EU Member States are the largest shark catching entity of all, the report said.
The study was commissioned by the European Commission and written in the wake of the shark and manta ray species being listed within the Appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flor (CITES)) at a meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, in March this year.
They include the Oceanic Whitetip shark, Porbeagle shark, three species of hammerhead shark (Scalloped, Great and Smooth) and manta rays, all of them subject to continued over-exploitation.
The species are all slow growing, late to mature and produce few young, making them highly susceptible to over-fishing, researchers said.
"There was great elation when these sharks and manta rays were listed in CITES this March, but although it was a significant moment for the conservation world, now comes the task of making these listings work in practise as time is running out for some of these species," said Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC's Marine Programme Leader.
"This report provides a comprehensive picture of the situation of the sharks and rays listed at the last CITES Conference of the Parties as well as of the challenges ahead to ensure that international trade in those species becomes sustainable," Sant said.