A defining feature of the Global Strategy is that these coordinated, integrated strategies are designed to be taken forward through an established NGO partnership, working in collaboration with numerous other public and private sector actors.
Together, we aspire to change how sharks and rays are viewed and conserved.
million years old
species of sharks and rays globally
of all species threatened
A Window of Opportunity
There is currently an unprecedented window of opportunity to transform the conservation of the world’s sharks and rays, supported by increased public and government interest in these species.
The 2013 listing of seven commercially exploited species of sharks and rays on CITES was the latest in a series of international policy milestones which together create an opportunity to turn the tide towards major conservation improvements.
Momentum for change has been boosted by numerous national efforts and ground-breaking measures adopted by Regional Fishery Bodies (RFBs), including Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). These advances are in direct response to the growing recognition of the threats to sharks and rays and – bolstered by awareness-raising campaigns and new governmental conservation commitments – constitute a promising enabling environment in which to launch a Global Strategy.
To accelerate implementation, and seize the CITES opportunity, significant investment is needed to empower governments to meet their national and international commitments to the shark and ray species under their jurisdiction.
Children standing in front of Bertha's tank at Shark Camp
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher
A Roadmap For Action
It is clear that such an ambitious effort involves a much broader range of private and public sector organizations, agencies, and institutions. This Global Strategy provides a roadmap for expanding commitments and prompting action to ensure the conservation of these vulnerable and valuable fishes.
Four strategic areas of intervention identified to dramatically alter the current trajectory of shark and ray decline by 2025. Each of the four strategies are designed to be closely linked and encourage synergy of action at different levels. Crucially, all four strategies combine a variety of approaches, simultaneously encouraging regional cooperation and the widespread progress that can be triggered by international and regional agreements, while also taking into account the specific circumstances, constraints, and conditions at a national level, where critical decision-making and implementation take place.
Fundamental elements of the Global Strategy include:
improvements in governance frameworks and regimes for shark and ray conservation;
data collection and scientific investigation to further the understanding of sharks and rays and the pressures on their populations;
development and deployment of tools to strengthen technical capacity; and
fostering increased commitment, including political will and financial investment, across multiple sectors.
There are three fundamental distinctions that inform this strategy:
FIRST is the recognition that some species or populations can (if properly regulated) support certain levels of exploitation, while others – because of severe depletion or intrinsic vulnerability – cannot withstand, and should not be subjected to, any extractive use. The Global Strategy incorporates a focus on securing strict protections for the most threatened species, while ensuring that the use of other species is, or becomes, sustainable.
SECOND are the differences between the improvements in fisheries management necessary in countries with weak shark and ray fisheries management compared with those required in countries which already have comprehensive management regimes in place. Countries with more advanced shark and ray fisheries management can not only continue to strengthen that management, but also develop models of best practice and provide technical and other assistance to efforts beyond their jurisdictions.
THIRD is the fact that actions need to be carefully tailored to reflect the great variability and complex dynamics of fisheries and markets in different parts of the world. For example, very different approaches in promoting responsible consumption are likely to be successful in countries where traceable and certified seafood are available, accepted and affordable, compared with those in countries where they are not.