Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

DNA Testing Reveals Continued, Illegal Trade In Fins Of Endangered Basking Sharks

Date:
April 23, 2007
Source:
Pew Institute for Ocean Science
Summary:
Despite regulations by some countries to protect the behemoth basking shark from further population declines, a new study published in the current on-line edition of Animal Conservation reports that the world's second largest fish is still being killed for its high-priced fins.

Growing up to 40 feet long, the filter-feeding basking shark is considered to be extremely vulnerable to fishing pressure, perhaps more so than most sharks, because it grows slowly, matures late, and has low numbers of offspring, resulting in naturally small populations. Historical commercial fishing for its meat and vitamin-rich liver oil frequently resulted in rapid collapses of its populations.
Credit: Sally Sharrock--The Shark Trust

Despite regulations by some countries to protect the behemoth basking shark from further population declines, a new study published in the current on-line edition of Animal Conservation reports that the world’s second largest fish is still being killed for its high-priced fins.

Scientists from the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University and the Pew Institute for Ocean Science at the University of Miami, both in Florida, and from England’s Imperial College and Durham University used a novel, streamlined DNA analysis method to document the presence of fins from basking sharks in the Hong Kong and Japanese fin markets, and even in the USA where this species has been completely protected by fishery regulations since 1997.

“The demand for basking shark fins, which can fetch prices in excess of $50,000 (USD) for a single large fin, is continuing to drive the exploitation, surreptitious and otherwise, of this highly threatened species,” says Mahmood Shivji, Ph.D., director of the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI), who led the research group. “This finding, along with our recent research documenting extremely low genetic diversity in basking sharks worldwide, raises urgent concerns about the longer-term health of this species.”

Growing up to 40 feet long, the filter-feeding basking shark is considered to be extremely vulnerable to fishing pressure, perhaps more so than most sharks, because it grows slowly, matures late, and has low numbers of offspring, resulting in naturally small populations. Historical commercial fishing for its meat and vitamin-rich liver oil frequently resulted in rapid collapses of its populations. Because of concerns about its vulnerability and downward trajectory of its stocks, the basking shark is protected from landing and trade by national legislation in the waters of several countries. It is listed as “Endangered” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in parts of its range and on Appendix II of CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

“Our findings suggest that preventing worldwide collapse of basking shark populations will require expanded protection for this vulnerable species and better enforcement of existing fisheries and trade rules,” says Ellen Pikitch, Ph.D., a co-author and executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

One of the major problems with monitoring the trade in shark products to prevent exploitation of protected species is the difficulty in identifying detached body parts and processed products accurately to species-level. The rapid and low-cost DNA forensics test for basking sharks developed and used by Shivji and colleagues generates a simple, DNA fingerprint unique to basking sharks.

“The simple-to-use DNA forensics test developed and used by the research team should make it more efficient to screen large numbers of shark products in the trade stream, making detection of basking shark products and assessment of compliance with national fisheries and international CITES regulations much easier in the future,” according to Jennifer Magnussen, the paper’s lead author and a graduate student at GHRI.

The Guy Harvey Research Institute is a scientific research organization based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, at the Oceanographic Center of Nova Southeastern University (NSU). GHRI was established in 1999 as a collaboration between the renowned marine artist Dr. Guy Harvey and NSU’s Oceanographic Center to conduct solution-oriented, basic and applied scientific research needed for effective conservation, biodiversity maintenance and understanding of the world’s wild fishes. For more information, visit http://www.nova.edu/ocean/ghri.

The mission of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science is to advance ocean conservation through science. Established in 2003 by a generous multi-year grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts; the Pew Institute for Ocean Science is a major program of the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science For more information, visit http://www.pewoceanscience.org.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pew Institute for Ocean Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Pew Institute for Ocean Science. "DNA Testing Reveals Continued, Illegal Trade In Fins Of Endangered Basking Sharks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070423083525.htm>.
Pew Institute for Ocean Science. (2007, April 23). DNA Testing Reveals Continued, Illegal Trade In Fins Of Endangered Basking Sharks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070423083525.htm
Pew Institute for Ocean Science. "DNA Testing Reveals Continued, Illegal Trade In Fins Of Endangered Basking Sharks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070423083525.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins