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DNA fingerprinting to identify harvest location of silky sharks in the shark finning industry

Principal Investigators: Derek Kraft

Our oceans are under intense pressure from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which accounts for one-third of the global annual harvest. One major component of IUU fishing is the shark finning industry with an annual global harvest of 26-73 million sharks. The silky shark is the second most abundant species in the fin market and currently we have no way of quantifying which silky shark populations are being targeted by these IUU fisheries. Given traditional extraction monitoring is not available for species in the fin market, we can monitor the market supply chain itself. This projects main goal is developing this forensic application for identifying region of origin for silky shark products known as DNA fingerprinting. Specimens have already been acquired from the two largest fin markets in the world, the Hong-Kong market and the Guangzhou market. This will allow us to identify which silky shark populations are falling victim to the shark fin trade, where this illegal shark finning is occurring, and possible harvest hot spots around the globe.

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