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SHARKTRACE: an emerging solution

Published 24th September 2021

  English 

Tackling Shark Species Decline Through Traceability

With the latest news that one-third of the world's shark and ray species are now threatened with extinction, today at the World Fisheries Congress in Australia TRAFFIC discusses SharkTrace: innovative apps to help tackle this population catastrophe.


“Knowing when, where, how and who caught a shark product and every part of its journey to the consumer is vital to halt the free-fall decline in shark and ray populations, but there has been no dedicated trade-based mechanism to identify shark products from legal sources… until now,” Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC’s Senior Advisor – Fisheries trade.

Today, TRAFFIC presents SharkTrace  - a tool that uses technology to trace species from capture to consumption. Its simple, user-friendly, and cost-effective Apps were designed specifically for use on board fishing vessels, processing plants, and transport to ensure transparency throughout the supply chain.

Ensuring shark and ray products derive from sustainable and legal sources is the responsibility of fishers, managers, traders, consumers and governments. SharkTrace will support legitimate traders to demonstrate that their products are legal and meet CITES regulations. Positively identifying these legal products will also help expose illegal catch taken from poorly managed fisheries"

Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC’s Senior Advisor – Fisheries tradeAs highlighted in TRAFFIC’s response to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group (SSG) assessments, global governments need to act fast and take responsibility for the stewardship of these species seriously as an increasing level of threat of extinction reflects poorly on their commitments to protect species and secure the future of global food security.

Dr Nicholas Dulvy, Professor at Simon Fraser University who lead the IUCN SSG assessment, said: “Governments could be taking advantage of where traceability systems are being developed for shark and rays, introducing such systems as a backbone to better monitoring, assuring compliance with management measures and a general heightened level of transparency within the trade of shark and ray products.”

Despite the COVID pandemic, TRAFFIC has not stopped in its mission for traceability within shark trade. Along with support from Shark Conservation Fund, Fishwell Consulting and OLSPS Group, TRAFFIC has successfully trialled SharkTrace onboard fishing vessels and shark meat processing plants in a busy Australian fishery.

Over the coming months and years, TRAFFIC will commence further at-sea trials across Asia and Africa while working with industry and governments to adopt SharkTrace to assist their management of shark and ray fisheries and trade.

As we further progress SharkTrace to a roll-out phase we will be looking for take-up by fishers, seafood traders, governments and consumers. We look forward to hearing of their interest and working with them in the coming years.


Notes:

These Apps add to the suite of tools created by TRAFFIC in 2021 to enhance traceability and sustainability in the shark trade, including the world's first-ever 3D-printed shark fins. The replica fins represent a dozen regularly traded sharks, eleven of them CITES-listed species, including Great Hammerhead, Oceanic Whitetip, and Silky sharks, created from 3D scans of real dried shark fins.