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.
Outside the USA, The Bahamas is the only place where Critically Endangered smalltooth sawfish can reliably be found. Tristan wants to ensure that protection measures in The Bahamas are understood and enforced as far as sawfish are concerned to close the current gap between policy and the people. He’ll be using aerial surveys, sonar and BRUVs, combined with interviews that draw on local knowledge, to identify essential sawfish habitats that need protection. Engaging with the community through workshops and by training students and meeting with government, Tristan intends to advocate for smalltooth sawfish protection throughout The Bahamas’ territorial waters.
Steven and Kevin are using genetic techniques to understand how Caribbean reef shark populations are connected across the extent of their range. Populations of this Endangered shark are in decline generally, but where they are managed and there is effective protection, their numbers are stable. With the integration of the correct information, Steven and Kevin are convinced that we can give Caribbean reef sharks a better shot at recovery and population stabilisation. They will also explore any barriers to connectivity, looking to the future recruitment and recovery of these sharks.
With very little information available about Endangered sicklefin devil rays, their seasonal aggregations at sea mounts in the Azores give Sophie an opportunity to learn more about their lives. She will be collecting satellite-tracking data that show how they move in the Azores’ exclusive economic zone. The information she collects will be used to develop maps of how the rays are using the zone and to identify essential areas that multiple species use. With this information at hand, Sophie hopes her work can contribute to a network of marine protected areas.