IUCN: 11% of Indian sharks, rays and chimaeras face high risk of extinction

The International Union for Conservation of Nature recently found that Sharks, Rays and Chimeras are facing high risk of extinction. The Shark Specialist Group held an assessment in the Exclusive Economic Zone and found that out of 170 species of Sharks found across the oceans of the country, 19 are facing extinction. Around 11% of species in the oceans of India are facing extinction.

Key findings

  • Out of the 170 species in the oceans of India, 30 have been classified as Endangered according to the IUCN Red List for threatened species.
  • In the last assessment that was held in 2014, only 3% of the sharks, rays and Chimeras were listed as Critically Endangered. However, this has increased to 11% in 2020.
  • The number of species in endangered category has increased from 5% in 2014 to 18% in 2020.
  • The recent IUCN Red List Update marked the Indian Swell Shark as critically endangered for the first time due to limited Geographic range and population decline. The Indian Swell Shark is a small deep water cat shark. It is found in the coasts of Kerala, Sri Lanka, Kollam. They occur on the continental slope at depths of 100-500 metres.
  • The Oceanic White tip shark that was classified as endangered has now been listed critically endangered. The White Tip Shark has high amounts of Squalene in its liver. Squalene is a natural organic compound that is found in shark liver oil and is widely used in pharmaceutical industry.
  • Due to Target fishing and by-catch, the rays and shark numbers have fallen drastically. Target Fishing is when a particular type of fish is targeted. On the other hand, by-catch fish is the other fish gets caught alongside.
  • According to the IUCN Assessment, 38 of the sharks have been classified as Vulnerable, 23 as Least Concern, 27 as Near-threatened.

Indian Sharks

There are six species of River Sharks in the world. Out of these the Ganges sharks are endemic to India. The Ganges Sharks inhabits River Hooghly in West Bengal and Ganga, Mahanadi and Brahmaputra in the states of Assam, Bihar and Odisha. The River Sharks are one of the twenty most threatened shark species in the world. They are listed as Critically Endangered species in the IUCN Red List. Also, they are protected under Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972.

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