UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Characterizing the knowledge and attitudes towards sharks and the domestic use of shark meat and fins in Peru De la Puente Jeri, Santiago


Shark populations show evidence of declines at a global scale. Knowledge of the socio-economic consequences of changes in their abundance is limited. Furthermore, research on the status of peoples’ knowledge and attitudes towards sharks and how these affect their values, behaviours and actions is lagging behind the pursuit of biological and ecological concerns. Framed within Peru’s National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, Rays and Chimeras, the present study sought to: (1) characterize coastal Peruvian’s general knowledge and attitudes towards sharks and shark meat consumption; (2) describe the domestic market and trade flows of shark commodities; (3) estimate the apparent consumption of shark meat and fins in Peru; and (4) reconstruct the catches required to maintain the estimated local levels of shark consumption. Using data from over 2000 surveys provided by OCEANA Peru, I determined that a limited proportion of the Peruvian coastal population was aware of sharks’ presence in the country’s waters, and of these, only a minor subset was capable of naming shark species found locally. Furthermore, Peruvians have very negative attitudes towards sharks, driven by fear and prevalent misconceptions regarding their feeding habits and behaviour, which are reinforced by mass media. Using public data, provided by various organizations within the Peruvian government, I determined that shark meat consumption in Peru is high and growing, although its contribution to national food security remains low. Nonetheless, most shark meat consumers are not aware that they are eating sharks due to deceptive advertising. Improvements on seafood traceability have only been observed on exports, as data associated with landings, local markets and imports remains highly aggregated. Moreover, official statistics severely underestimate the catches required to maintain the Peruvian supply (by 39%) and demand (by 85%) of shark products. These findings can be used to inform the design of communications campaigns and government policies seeking to: (i) improve people’s knowledge and attitudes towards sharks in Peru, (ii) increase seafood traceability, (iii) protect seafood consumers, and (iv) advance towards the incorporation of these dimensions in the quantitative evaluation of policy outcomes for achieving sustainable shark fisheries.

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