Catching fish species that were protected under various wildlife laws would have an adverse ecological impact, said Principal Scientist P. P. Manojkumar.
Speaking at a workshop on conservation of Elasmobranchs (cartilaginous fish, including shark varieties) for fishermen at Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) here on Wednesday, he said that though the commercial value of such fish species could be enticing, fishermen should desist from catching them. “Some of the protected species command a good price in the black market because of their high-priced fin, cartilage, intestine, teeth, liver, gills and meat. These are used for preparation of medicines, ornaments and a number of other items,” he said.
However, these fish had a very low fecundity and a longer maturation period compared to other species, he said.
Assistant Director of Marine Products Export Development Authority Anju said that many shark varieties, which were protected under Indian Wildlife Act, 1972, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement regulating trade of fish, were fast declining. “Sometimes fishermen cut the fins of sharks and leave them in the sea,” she said.
“The fins are exported to countries such as China and Japan where they are a delicacy. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade has banned export of shark fin since February 2015,” she added.
Forest Ranger Vimal Raj said commercial use of protected species of fish under the Indian Wildlife Act would attract imprisonment up to five years, especially in the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve.
A series of lectures on field-level identification and conservation status and discussions with fishermen were held.
Principal Scientist I. Jagadis, Scientists L. Ranjith, C. Kalidas and Linga Prabu were present.