State of Global Market for Shark Products

Working Through Challenges

Gain a better understanding of the challenges shark researchers and data scientists face when studying the shark fin and meat trade.


about the market for
shark-derived products

Although it only covers a proportion of what is actually caught and traded, available data accounts mostly for the two most-traded products: shark meat and shark fins.

Other products that many countries also trade in—with even less available data— include:


for example when shark fins are reported as shark meat

Frozen fins and frozen shark meat are sometimes combined under a single commodity code in trade databases, as is the case in Hong Kong from 2012 to 2014 and for many years in mainland China.

Additionally, skate and ray meat was not typically reported separately to shark meat prior to 2012.

Complications with


A single shark recorded in a landings database may be double counted in the trade database as an import and a re-import (or an export and re-export).

It might be counted once in the unprocessed form and again in the processed form.

Lack of

Species id

Overall, the species of shark is rarely identified in trade records.

to account

for domestic consumption

It is often not possible to simply subtract traded exports from imports because shark landings or local processing may also contribute to domestic supply.

Lack of

precise labeling

with many countries lacking distinct codes for unprocessed and processed shark fins

Frozen fins can weigh up to four times more than dried fins making it challenging to determine exactly how much of the reported quantities consists of shark fin and how much is simply water content.

If products are exported in processed form, it can be difficult to know whether the traded quantity is lower than landings due to processing or consumption or both.

Inconsistent custom codes

between countries

Customs codes can be inconsistent from one country to the next, which makes a global analysis difficult.