Meet the first Indian woman to win prestigious Future for Nature award

Capturing, killing and sale of four shark species — whale shark (Rhincodon typus), Pondicherry shark (Carcharhinus hemiodon), Ganges shark (Glyphis gangeticus) and speartooth shark (Glyphis glyphis) is banned in India under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Shark finning and fin exports have also been banned separately.

But shark fishing and trade continues since sharks look similar with their sharp teeth and often get misidentified by fishermen. There is a huge demand for shark fins in Southeast Asian countries, while shark meat is used in domestic markets. Shark parts go into making of Sorrah Puttu and other dishes that figure on seafood restaurants. In order to protect threatened shark species, it is necessary to involve both fishing communities as well as people who consume shark products. Dr Divya Karnad, a marine biologist working on shark conservation, has been chosen for a global award to work on such holistic conservation programme.

An assistant professor of environment studies at the Ashoka University, she is among three young researchers selected for the Future for Nature award for 2019, given by the Netherlands-based Future for Nature Foundation, which includes a sum of 50,000 Euros to work on conservation projects.

Divya relies on three approaches to achieve marine species conservation. Firstly, she uses scientific evidence to guide her conservation actions. Secondly, she translates scientific results so they can be understood by the public. And her third approach is setting up conservation tools like InSeason Fish, sustainable fisheries are promoted and the bycatch of sharks will be reduced.

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