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Protecting the Crowned Giants: Hammerhead Shark Conservation in Bangladesh

By Nazia Hossain, 21st February 2024

In the azure waters of the Bay of Bengal, where the waves dance against the shores of Bangladesh, a silent struggle unfolds beneath the surface. Here, amidst the vibrant tapestry of marine life, hammerhead sharks, majestic rulers of the deep, face an uncertain future.

As guardians of the ocean, it falls upon us to understand and address the pressing threats to these enigmatic creatures. Through evidence-based conservation efforts, we strive to safeguard their existence and preserve the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem.

Imposing a ban on fishing during their breeding season emerges as a crucial measure for hammerhead shark conservation. However, considerations must be made to ensure the ban’s effectiveness without imposing undue financial burdens on fishermen.

Fishing boats docked during Bangladesh's 65-day marine fishing ban. © Fayed Khan

Controlling hammerhead shark catches year-round, alongside implementing measures such as trade monitoring and gear modification, forms the cornerstone of our conservation strategy. By incentivising fishermen’s participation and strictly enforcing regulations, we aim to curb unsustainable fishing practices that jeopardise the hammerheads’ survival.

Repairing large mesh gill net to ensure safer fishing practices. © Fayed Khan

Education plays a pivotal role in fostering conservation awareness among fishing communities. Through workshops and live release training programs, we empower fishermen to become stewards of the ocean, advocating for sustainable fishing practices and embracing by-catch reduction devices to minimise accidental captures.

Our journey towards hammerhead shark conservation begins with this study – the first of its kind in Bangladesh. By engaging directly with fishermen, we bridge the knowledge gap, shedding light on population dynamics and catch trends crucial for informed decision-making.

Yet, our quest is far from over. As we embark on further research and species-specific studies, we lay the groundwork for a sustainable conservation action plan. Only through a collaborative effort – encompassing science, community engagement, and policy advocacy – can we ensure the survival of these magnificent creatures for generations to come.

Discussing hammerhead shark and marine megafauna conservation with future fishing community leaders, fostering ocean stewardship in Bangladesh. © Fayed Khan

Together, let us pledge to protect the crowned giants of the sea – for they are not just icons of our oceans, but invaluable guardians of our planet’s biodiversity.

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