IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

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


Context: A recent assessment of sharks, rays and chimaeras by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Shark Specialist Group in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has revealed that of the 170 species found across the oceans of the country, 19 (about 11%) are facing high risk of extinction.

  • Of the 19 species that have been assessed as critically endangered, there are seven species of sharks, five species of guitar fishes, two sawfishes, four wedge fishes and one species of stingray, the Maculabatis arabica, a recently discovered species.
  • In the last assessment, only 3% sharks, rays and chimaeras were Critically Endangered (CE), which increased to 11% in 2020.
  • Similarly, for the Endangered (EN) category, the number of the species increased from 5% in 2014 to 18% in 2020.
  • Shark and rays numbers in Indian waters have fallen drastically in recent years due to target fishing (when a particular type of fish is targeted) and by-catch (other fish that get caught alongside).
  • Information on deep-water species is very limited even in India.
  • There is need for more accurate species-specific data for formulating a shark conservation policy to rebuild depleted shark populations for the benefit of the ecosystem and also the people that depend on them for livelihoods and food security.


Indian swellshark

  • This Red List update, marks for the first time one deep-water Indian swellshark Cephaloscyllium silasi as critically endangered due to very limited geographic range, and population decline.
  • The Indian swellshark is a small deep-water catshark known from the coast of Kollam, Kerala and Sri Lanka, and also from the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • It occurs on the continental slope at depths of 100-500m.
  • The species is caught as incidental catch by intensive deep-water trawl fisheries.