The Society of Wilderness (SOW) yesterday said a survey showed that up to 98 percent of the shark species served as food in Taiwan — either as shark meat or shark fins — were near-threatened or vulnerable species.
The society initiated a shark DNA examination program in 2011, using funding from nearly a thousand donors and the help of 16 volunteers to gather samples of shark meat or fins sold at markets, fish ports, food stalls and restaurants.
From the total collection of 1,000 shark meat samples, a random selection of 548 tissue samples was analyzed for DNA at an Academia Sinica laboratory to determine the species of shark.
The SOW said Taiwan’s fishing fleets are responsible for the fourth-largest shark catch in the world, so understanding the shark species consumed by people in Taiwan is important for formulating shark-conservation plans in the future.
Working with the group, Academia Sinica Biodiversity Research Center fellow Chaolun Allen Chen (陳昭倫) said shark finning has contributed to the over-exploitation of sharks. The fin accounts for less than 5 percent of a shark’s body, and it is difficult to identify the species from only a fin, so other scientific techniques must be applied.
After conducting DNA sequencing on the 548 samples, Chen said researchers were able to identify 20 species — of which 19 are listed as “near threatened” or “vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened or Near Threatened Species.
Moreover, four species were listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as species that are not threatened with extinction at the moment, but might become so unless trade in them is strictly regulated, he said. More....