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).
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.