Chennai: Chennai will soon follow western countries in protecting endangered sharks. In a first of its kind initiative to conserve sharks, foresters attached to wildlife rescue headquarters in Chennai have started visiting fishing harbours in the city to prosecute fishermen netting banned shark species.
Sources with Traffic, the wildlife trade-monitoring group, said soon checks would also be done on airlines operating from south and eastern India to ensure that shark fins are not exported from Chennai to south Asian countries, including Singapore and Malaysia.
According to city wildlife warden K. Geethanjali, the drive that kick-started at Kasimedu fishing harbour on Monday resulted in heated exchanges between foresters and fishermen over shark catch.
“A few big sharks were seized for lab tests and we would register cases as per Wildlife (Protection) Act if Tamil Nadu fishermen continue to fish protected endangered marine mammals,” she said.
According to official sources, trawlers with about 10 tonnes of sharks were intercepted at the fishing harbour early this week but no cases were registered, as the sharks were found with their fins intact.
Further, scheduled animals like Whale shark, Giant sting ray and Guitar fish were not found in the catch. The fishermen were asked to refrain from focusing on deep sea shark fishing as any accidental catch of scheduled animals would also lead to legal action.
“Experts from state fisheries department are roped in to identify the names of the rare fish netted by local fishermen. And the top brass have instructed to periodically visit the fishing hamlets that target shark fishing”, said city wildlife headquarters ranger David Raj.
More sudden inspections are planned in all the fishing hamlets in Chennai. “We will also approach the airport authorities in Chennai to monitor any movement of banned shark fin consignments and would approach the airlines to ensure that they do not encourage export of shark fins through their cargo,” the ranger added....
Location: Tamil Nadu