Een is the executive director of the Rekam Nusantara Foundation in Indonesia, where he works with a variety of partners and stakeholders. His key concern lies in building local support for rhino ray conservation and management in the north Java Sea. Giant guitarfishes and wedgefishes (collectively dubbed rhino rays for their pointed snouts and Endangered status) are some of the most threatened species in the ocean. Through fisheries and marine programmes, Een hopes to continue to work with the Department of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Central Java, and Diponegoro University, to find urgent solutions.
I have worked in the field of conservation for more than 16 years, campaigning on environmental issues and advocating for the sustainable management of natural resources. I have conducted numerous meetings and negotiations to foster cooperation between various elements of the central government and across its ministries or agencies, and also in local government at provincial, district and city levels. Developing strong relationships between academics at various universities in Indonesia, local and national NGOs, international NGOs, donor agencies, media and communities is also an important part of my career. In 2020-2021 I was special staff for environmental affairs and natural...
To generate awareness and understanding of rhino ray populations and how to manage their fisheries sustainably in the waters off the North Coast, Java.
We are determined to help promote an inclusive partnership that undertakes the conservation and management of rhino rays, one that acknowledges the rights and responsibilities of all targeted communities and working partners. At the same time it is important to build the importance and value of rhino ray populations into any long-term conservation agreement and partnership.
According to our monitoring of shark landings since April 2019 in the North Coast region of Java, more than 7,000 rhino rays, comprising four wedgefish and two giant guitarfish species, have been caught in the Java Sea and landed in three large fishing ports along the coast. These findings have given us hope that there are still rhino ray populations in some parts of the Java Sea. They also indicate that a proper and sustainable fisheries management for rhino rays in the Java Sea should be implemented to help these populations survive and even thrive. We have entered into a collaborative agreement with the Central Java provincial government to assist in the development of fisheries management for wedgefish in the Java Sea. Our project will be a critical stepping stone to advance local support for both the development and the implementation of this management. Next we plan to continue expanding our reach from the public in general to high-level policy-makers and to ensure that they understand our messages about rhino ray populations and their conservation. These efforts will be based on the lessons we have learnt in the three main fishing ports in North Coast: Tegal Regency, Pati Regency and Rembang Regency.
After learning more from each targeted community, academics and local figures in our area, we are keen to highlight the inclusive collaboration between local communities, academics, media and other socio-cultural groups. This will be useful as an inspirational conservation model that fosters the awareness and understanding of the challenges facing rhino ray populations and the huge potential for them to be managed sustainably.
Demian’s team is developing tools that help border control officers identify illegal shark products. His project is sifting through ‘rhino ray’ DNA sequences looking for differences in code between the guitarfishes, giant guitarfishes and wedgefishes nicknamed for their pointy snouts (and Endangered status). Months of testing will help ensure only rhino ray DNA is targeted before the team flies to Hong Kong to help officials use a portable DNA tester. This project will add to the arsenal currently being used to identify illegal shark fins moving across borders, and help stop the trafficking of ‘rhino ray’ fins.
Aristide created a citizen science platform and mobile app for fishers across Cameroon’s 400 km coastline to record sightings of sharks, rays and marine life. These photos are uploaded to iNaturalist where they are identified and will serve to create Cameroon’s first elasmobranch atlas. Together with his team, Aristide ensures data are being uploaded, visits fish landing sites to assess bycatch and measure sharks, and scours the beaches to check for strandings and sea turtle nests. He collects tissue samples of threatened species in these visits that can give more insights into the diversity, population size and structure of vulnerable sharks.
Ali is collaborating with researchers across North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean to develop support tools for guitarfish conservation. As an advocate, much of her work is completed behind a computer and locked in meetings, but her goal is to help bring awareness to the Threatened status of guitarfish in the Mediterranean. As the current Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust, Ali represents a large number of regional partners to engage with governments, develop new resources and coordinate guitarfish conservation activities.