Jennifer’s research will start in the world’s busiest amulet market of Tha Prachan in Bangkok. From there, she’ll be tracing trade and supply chain routes through other markets and ports to glean information from local traders and fishers. Her focus is on collecting data on bowmouth products such as how much is present in the markets and what drives the trade. She hopes these data will help inform critical research and data gaps and contribute to informing trade policy, both nationally and internationally.
I spent my early childhood on the east coast of Canada, racing into the icy cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Whale watching was a rare excursion that my three siblings and I could all agree on. Memories of breaching whales have faded over the years, but one memory from these trips has stood the test of time: a fisher reeling in a formidable fish – a shark! Transferring to the landlocked province of Alberta removed me from the seascape, and my intellectual pursuits eventually focused on law and policy. After completing a BA in international relations, I worked as...
The overall aim is to characterize the physical bowmouth amulet trade and understand the relationship between products and people in Thailand to inform management, enforcement, and CITES.
The bowmouth guitarfish is a Critically Endangered and CITES listed ray. Their numbers have undergone severe declines, and though protected in Thailand, this is where their characteristic large thorns are found made into jewellery and traded for “protective powers”. The market for their thorns has been unresearched and unquantified, but quantifying their volume and value can provide a low-cost method to inform management and policy recommendations.
The unsustainable trade of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) is contributing to their drastic declines, yet very little attention outside the trade of fins and meat is given any attention. Wedgefishes are one of the most threatened families of marine fishes and all known species were CITES Appendix II listed in late 2019. Bowmouth are without species-specific management plans and are in need of data to inform conservation measures. Occuring in coastal waters, around coral reefs and on the continental shelf, bowmouth have very low productivity (about 2-11 pups per litter) with very little known of their life history or population status over time. They are caught through targeted and incidental catch and retained for their high-quality meat and high value fins. Indeed, bowmouth fins fetch among the highest value in the fin trade. Monitoring trade volumes of shark and ray products can act as a proxy for landings data and fill critical data gaps that can be difficult to otherwise difficult to obtain. The trade of elasmobranch fins is well established but gathering species specific information is difficult, costly, and time consuming. Research of the elasmobranch curios trade is lacking and in the case of the bowmouth, non-existent. Results from my initial bowmouth research clearly demonstrates an online demand and market for bowmouth thorns. The work here funded by Save our Seas Foundation will quantify the physical dimension of trade in bowmouth products in Thailand. Additionally, I will investigate the socio-economic drivers of thorn trade specifically with reference to existing Thai enforcement and management. My proposed outputs will provide concrete evidence of direct relevance to the conservation of this endangered species, specifically critical non-detriment findings that are currently unavailable for bowmouth in Thailand (and most of its range states).
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.