Fin Finder is able to identify the shark or ray species when users upload a photo of a fin on the app. The app’s algorithm does this by analysing the shape and patterns on the fin, similar to AI’s capability to process facial recognition.

The National Parks Board (NParks), non-profit group Conservation International and Microsoft Singapore collaborated and worked on the app from September last year.

Dr Adrian Loo, group director of wildlife management at NParks, said fins entering Singapore currently need to undergo visual inspection, with officers comparing the fins against a guide indicating which species have been approved for trade.

To ascertain whether the fins are from species regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) Appendix II, the samples are then sent for DNA testing to determine the species and genus of the shark, a process that can take up to a week.

With the app, that time is shaved to under a minute, giving enforcement officers near-instant feedback on whether a shipment contains fins from regulated species, said Dhanushri Munasinghe, project coordinator at Conservation International Singapore.

She added that the app can identify the species with up to 89% certainty, allowing officers to quickly flag suspicious fin shipments for further DNA testing at NParks’ Centre for Wildlife Forensics.

Utilising a database containing more than 15,000 images of shark and ray fins, a beta version of Fin Finder was able to identify more than 30 species of sharks and rays, of which 14 are Cites II listed. Species that are Cites II listed have their trade regulated and monitored, and cannot be imported without permits.

According to