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Fins and (Mis)fortunes: managing shark populations for sustainability and food sovereignty
Baker-Médard, M.; Faber, J. (2020). Fins and (Mis)fortunes: managing shark populations for sustainability and food sovereignty. Mar. Policy 113: 103805.
In: Marine Policy. Elsevier: UK. ISSN 0308-597X; e-ISSN 1872-9460, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Baker-Médard, M.
  • Faber, J.

    Sharks are simultaneously a subsistence food and a luxury item. Shark fins are consumed during special occasions among primarily the East Asian elite, whereas shark meat is consumed by many globally, including by fishers and their families. Policies guiding the management of shark fisheries vary globally, with inconsistent protections for sharks across their ranges and insufficient consideration of the multifaceted demands for shark products. Banning shark fishing is a popular management strategy; however, a full ban on shark fishing has the potential to threaten both food security and food sovereignty of small-scale fishing communities. In this paper, we investigate the tension between the subsistence and commercial value of sharks, examining the history and current status of shark fishing practices in Madagascar. From this case study, we analyze how current management strategies contribute to shark conservation and food sovereignty. Ultimately, we argue in favor of a rights-based approach to shark fisheries policy in Madagascar, and in other food insecure nations in the process of evaluating and expanding their shark conservation efforts, that considers (a) the end use of the sharks (e.g. implement policies favoring fishers who land sharks for subsistence), (b) the mode of access fishers use to harvest sharks (e.g. imposing greater restrictions on industrial vessels), and (c) direct and ongoing participation of local fishers in decision-making occurring at all scales of governance. While these suggestions pertain to shark fisheries globally, they are especially pertinent to fisheries-dependent countries with high rates of food insecurity in the Global South.

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