Landmarks on the Dorsal fin of a shark.
These features can be used to identify different shark species. The inability to ID shark species via their fins has been an argument used to exemplify that the trade in shark fins can’t be regulated by species.
Dr. Demian Chapman and the Pew Environment Trust show us that that simply is not an excuse anymore, and have made a guide to prove just that. An just in time for CITES, where three types of shark are up for listing.
2. Oceanic White Tip
3. Hammerhead Sharks ( I say this because if one of the three species are listed, the other two will be by proxy because their fins look too similar to distinguish)
Fins from 14 large-bodied shark species make up roughly 40% of the global fin trade. The oceanic whitetip and three hammerheads in this guide are included in this group and were estimated to constituted 7-9% of traded fins in 2000. Shark fin traders in Asia visually sort fins from these species into specific trade categories using the shape and color of the fin.
This guide is intended to help enforcement and customs personnel in the provisional identification of the first dorsal fins of these five shark species. In law enforcement situations, this could provide probable cause to hold questionable fins, so that expert opinion could be sought or genetic testing could be conducted to confirm the field identification.
These sharks are proposed for listing in CITES Appendix II. This means trade would still be allowed, but under tighter regulation that should ensure the products are coming from a sustainable source. Therefore it is vital to be able to identify their fins.
Science might not always mean Conservation, but Conservation is built on good science.