Has Shark considered a popular food in Bangladesh?
By Zeba Tarunnum
Although sharks are not a popular food in Bangladesh, they are caught in large numbers in the Bay of Bengal. As a result, the large sharks of Bull Shark species has now decreased a lot.
About 27 species of sharks were once found in the Bay of Bengal, but it has decreased in number. Scientists are blaming excess shark hunting and catching baby sharks for this.
The Bangladesh Coast Guard also seized 2,000 kg of sharks from the estuary of the Rabnabad channel in Patuakhali last Friday. The number of sharks in Bangladesh has decreased than it was ten years ago.
The question is why sharks are being caught at such a high rate even when sharks are not a popular or widely used food locally in Bangladesh?
Vikram Jeet Rai, the current Assistant Director of the District Fisheries Department in Chattogram, wrote a research paper named ‘The current status of sharks in the Bay of Bengal and its economic importance’ in 2011; his tenure as the Scientific Officer of the Marine Fisheries Survey Management Unit.
Virkam Jeet Rai said, there were 150 to 200 Nos. Mechanical operated fish boats used to hunt sharks commercially even a few years ago. Sharks were caught commercially on the coasts of Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar, Patuakhali and Barguna districts with the help of nets and fishing rods. At that time, shark meat, skins and fins were exported commercially from Bangladesh. There was a lot of demand for its in several countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, China.
In 2008-2009, a total of 3,933 metric tons of sharks were caught in Bangladesh. Due to this widespread hunting, the large sharks have almost become extinct from the Bay of Bengal.
According to the researchers, there are more than 27 species of shark in the Bay of Bengal. Among the species, the Yellow Dog Shark, Milk Shark, Hammerhead Shark, Bull Shark, etc., are notable. Among them, no other sharks are as fierce as a bull shark.
Vikram Jeet Rai further said, in some local areas of Bangladesh, people like to eat shark meat and dry Shark, besides there is a global demand for shark meat, fins, skin and bones, besides, the soup made with shark fins is also quite popular in elite hotels in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. In these countries, newlywed’s couple is fed shark soup because its fins contain mercury.
vitamin-A rich oils collect from Shark’s liver, and intestines are used in Poultry, Paint factories, varnish, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries and soften the tannery skin. In addition, the skin of the Milk shark, the Bull shark, is used to make expensive glass paper.
The leather of Shark’s back is used to make musical instruments and foreign handbags. Bone is used to making cosmetics and showpieces. Vikram Jeet Rai said the shark species in this region is at high risk due to industrial use of Shark’s limbs and the cause of death of Shark’s prey in a shrimp net.
Once, sharks were hunted for industrial use. After declaring shark hunting illegal or banned in Bangladesh, the previous market or demand is no longer available. So, the large species have already become extinct in the Bay of Bengal even though hunting has stopped in the industrial form.
Hunting of sharks, whales, and dolphins is prohibited in Bangladesh. Despite this, due to the local demand for dry Sharks, many people are secretly hunting sharks and selling them. According to Vikram Jeet Rai, “One of the reasons why sharks are banned is they mature at a much older age and give birth less”.
According to Mr. Rai, “In Bangladesh, baby sharks are being caught and killed in shrimp and small fishing nets. However, it takes a long time, 15/20 years, for a shark to grow. As a result, the number of sharks is not recovering. Therefore, due to all these reasons, the number of Sharks in the Bay of Bengal is decreasing.