Whale sharks are being increasingly hunted for the Chinese market, where demand is high for large shark fins and meat.
Research conducted by Murdoch University and Shandong University at Weihai into the catch and trade of whale sharks in China has found worrying trends for this threatened species.
While there is no targeted whale shark fishery and the species has some level of protection under Chinese law, researchers are concerned that this may change due to demand.
Whale sharks are part of a thriving ecotourism industry at Ningaloo Marine Park in Western Australia. Given a lack of knowledge about the migratory patterns of whale sharks, there is concern that hunting of whale sharks elsewhere in the world may damage Australia’s vulnerable whale shark population.