Fabio is working for mangroves and towards an MPA by restoring native species, collecting plastic waste and demarcating important coastal areas. All this, in a bid to bring to life a comprehensive strategy to save largetooth sawfish off the coast of Colombia. Fabio will also be training indigenous personnel and publicising the project at education centres. He hopes this will bring new attention to the important biodiversity, including sawfish, of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the coast of the Arahuac indigenous territory, in the Caribbean Sea of Colombia.
I am a marine biologist from Colombia, an early-career conservationist and manager of the Fundesabanas corporation. This organisation is currently working with the coastal communities of Magdalena to promote the creation of marine protected areas in territories historically affected by violence and drug trafficking. We engage mainly with the Arahuac indigenous communities, who live at the base of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. We have drawn up a conservation plan for the largetooth sawfish in national waters, developing a comprehensive strategy based on education, monitoring, conservation, sustainability and communication. We are also looking for...
Creation of a marine safety area for the Largetooth sawfish (pristis pristis), in Colombia, through the completion of the declaration of a protected marine area of 18Km2, free of unsustainable fishing techniques.
The conservation challenge of this project is to change the unsustainable traditional fishing techniques of the coastal communities of the target territory, for sustainable techniques to reduce the main threats to the target species: incidental fishing, use of static nets and concave hooks. Educational awareness strategies will be necessary, accompanied by sanctions, with established deadlines, given the urgency of conservation of our fish, due to the critical level of threat it has.
This project is based on three scientific components:
To guarantee the sustainability of our proposal, we will create an indigenous environmental corporation, whose corporate purpose is the conservation of the sawfish, led by the 10 most outstanding young people from the training sessions. Financing of this corporation will be achieved through:
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.