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DNA barcoding of traded shark fins in Peninsular Malaysia

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Southeast Asia is a major shark product trade hub, and many of the world’s largest shark product selling markets are located in the region. Malaysia is the second largest importer of shark fins in the world, approximately 2500 metric tonnes of fins were imported between 2000 and 2016. The country is also a major shark fisher—the eighth largest in the world in terms of yearly catch. Yet the composition of the species of shark involved in the Malaysian trade remains largely unknown. Not knowing the composition of the sharks involved in the fin trade in a major trade hub presents challenges when it comes to determining conservation goals, setting appropriate catch quotas and establishing new, or revisiting previous conservation listings. Using a fragment of the mtDNA COI gene we attempted to DNA barcode 147 dried shark fins. We identified a number of fins that belonged to species listed on either CITES appendix I, or II, and the composition of the sharks identified in samples collected from Peninsular Malaysia appears to be different from that of other trade hubs within the region. Given these differences, we suggest that further DNA barcoding studies be performed throughout the region at regularly repeated intervals to build a more comprehensive picture of the sharks involved in the trade within the region and globally, this information will be useful to policy makers and conservation planners.

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Correspondence to Benjamin J. Wainwright.

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Simon Hew is an independent researcher.

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Seah, Y.G., Kibat, C., Hew, S. et al. DNA barcoding of traded shark fins in Peninsular Malaysia. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 32, 993–999 (2022).

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