Conservation is never an easy task, but it’s even harder in a battleground. Mohammed works with fishing communities in Gaza to find out how to protect mobula rays during their visits to the east Mediterranean Sea.
This project aims to undertake an assessment of the scale of the seasonal mobulid fishery in Gaza, Palestine. This will include the collection of biological, ecological and socio-economic data.
Recent images and reports have revealed a targeted fishery for the giant devil ray, an endangered species, in Gaza. We need to collect data now before this ray is pushed to the point of collapse.
The giant devil ray occurs in deep, offshore waters and occasionally in shallow waters throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Until now there were not thought to be any direct fisheries for giant devil rays, although high mortality rates have been reported for this species when its caught accidentally in pelagic driftnets targeting swordfish in the Mediterranean. Giant devil rays are also accidentally captured in long-lines, purse seine nets, trawl nets and fixed traditional tuna traps. They are also occasionally caught as by-catch in the western central Ligurian Sea, where long-line catches have been monitored since 1999.
The giant devil ray is included in Annex II of the ‘List of endangered or threatened species’ to the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean of the Barcelona Convention, which came into force in 2001. Recent regional legislation has introduced new basin-wide bans of pelagic driftnets; if implemented, this would eliminate one of the most severe threats to the species.
The aims and objectives of this project are to:
Although Albania has an extensive coastline, very little is known about the country’s elasmobranchs. Rigers will collect catch data from fishers and aquaculture workers and encourage authorities to protect these vulnerable species. He will also engage with coastal communities to sensitise them to the plight of Albania’s sharks.
Mafia Island off the coast of Tanzania is a marine paradise, but an increasing human population is putting the creatures of the sea under pressure. Dried ray meat forms part of the local diet and Patroba will investigate the fishery’s impact on local livelihoods and environmental sustainability.
Very little is known about the seafood industry in Guatemala, especially when it comes to sharks and rays, but at certain times of year the demand for shark products is high. Ana will use DNA testing to find out which elasmobranchs are being consumed and how often.