The Shark Conservation Fund (SCF) distributes grants, aiming to end the global overexploitation of sharks and rays. Using sharks and rays as flagship species, the fund’s mission is to protect the health of the oceans by maintaining their function. Four key objectives underpin a strategy to achieve systematic change in shark and ray management:
Through its philanthropic collaborations, the SCF wants to prevent species extinctions, reverse population declines and restore population numbers by means of policy, outreach, advocacy, science and monitoring.
I am the executive director of the Shark Conservation Fund, a collaboration of philanthropists dedicated to solving the global shark and ray crisis. The fund aims to halt the overexploitation of the world’s sharks and rays, prevent extinctions and restore endangered species through the strategic and catalytic awarding of grants. Before joining the Shark Conservation Fund I spent 20 years working on fisheries management at state, federal and international levels with the US government and the non-profit sector. Most recently I was the director of US Oceans for The Pew Charitable Trusts, where I led Pew’s efforts to establish...
To maintain the vibrancy of the world’s oceans by halting the overexploitation of sharks and rays and to prevent extinctions by awarding strategic, collaborative and catalytic grants.
Sharks and rays make up the second most threatened group of vertebrates in the world. Given the integral role they play in ocean ecosystems, the health of shark and ray populations is closely linked to ocean health. The Shark Conservation Fund seeks to preserve the vitality of the world’s oceans by supporting efforts to halt the overexploitation of sharks and rays and to prevent extinctions.
As key ocean predators, sharks and rays are essential to the health of marine ecosystems and any depletion in their populations threatens that health and jeopardises the livelihoods of people around the world. Approximately 100 million sharks are killed annually and 37% of all shark and ray species are facing extinction. Unsustainable fishing (fuelled by increasing demand for shark products, especially fins and meat) and poorly controlled trade have led to a 90% decline in some shark and ray populations worldwide. Conservation and management in most parts of the world cannot keep pace with these threats.
The Shark Conservation Fund, a collaboration of philanthropists established in 2016, is dedicated to restoring ocean health by means of sweeping shark and ray conservation endeavours. Its goal is to help maintain the vitality of the world’s oceans by bringing to an end the overexploitation of sharks and rays, preventing extinctions, reversing declines and restoring populations; its methods are policy development, outreach and advocacy, science, communication, capacity building and monitoring. To achieve comprehensive changes in shark and ray management on a transformative scale, the fund leverages its strategy to attain four major goals.
Anna is collecting genetic information from white shark fin clips to assess this species’ population size in South Africa. Using close-kin mark-recapture analysis instead of traditional methods, she hopes to provide an accurate account of South Africa’s white shark population size. She also aims to develop a monitoring protocol that can use genetic samples collected during shark net and drumline patrols by the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board. This information is needed in South Africa, where the conservation of a protected species is balanced against concerns about bather safety, and where sharks are caught in bather protection gear.
Faqih is filling the gaps in the scant knowledge of giant guitarfish in Java’s Karimunjawa National Park marine protected area (MPA). Karimunjawa is located near Northern Java’s main fishing grounds, but evidence of giant guitarfish caught in some of the use-zones of the MPA hints that the park may be a sanctuary for the species. Managing giant guitarfish in Karimunjawa requires species-specific information.
Faqih’s project is a socio-ecological one to help inform management and draws on new information about relative abundance and distribution, historical occurrence and fishing pressures to paint a contemporary picture of the species in the park.
Cindy wants to know if bonnethead sharks in the Eastern Pacific constitute a third, cryptic species. The Bonnethead complex need clarification in all its distribution range, and Panama is a key country to solve this question since we have the Caribbean sea and the Pacific Ocean. By collecting fin clip samples to compare species at the genetic level and collecting specimens to compare how they look (morphology), Cindy hopes to resolve the taxonomy of Sphyrna tiburo vespertina – that is, whether it’s a cryptic third species for bonnetheads in the region. Her information can help update the IUCN Red List for bonnetheads and improve fisheries policies in Latin America where bonnethead sharks are commonly caught.