The rapid growth in the demand for shark products, particularly fins, has led to the worldwide overexploitation of many elasmobranch species. Although there are growing concerns about this largely unregulated and unmonitored trade, little information still exists about its dynamics, the species involved and the impact of this pressure on stocks in various regions. Our study provides the first attempt at characterizing the trade in shark products from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the fourth largest exporter in the world of raw dried shark fins to Hong Kong. A review of trade records and informal interviews with local traders confirmed that the UAE is being used as hub in the broader North Indian Ocean region for the trade in shark products with the Emirati fishery minimally contributing to this trade. Results based on morphological identification of sharks (n= 12,069) and DNA barcoding of tissue samples (n= 655) indicated that the trade was made up of at least 37 species. The most abundant families represented at the Dubai study site were the Sphyrnidae (9.3%), Lamnidae (9%) and Alopiidae (5.9%). While information was mostly limited to shark products originating from the UAE and Oman, results indicated that 45.3% of species traded were considered to be at high risk of global extinction based on the IUCN Red List Global Assessments. Since many of the species found during this survey are likely part of stocks shared with other countries, regional cooperation and management will be crucial to ensure their long term survival.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation