Shark Week 2022

Conservation Experts Plot a Future for Sharks

By Luke Warwick | July 27, 2022

Mako shark. Photo credit: ©Steve De Neef.

This month, as shark fans enjoyed a wealth of summer content on the ocean’s top predators, leading shark conservationists from 10 nations came together to ensure that these species have a future.

Action is badly needed, as the world’s sharks (and their near-relatives, the rays) are disappearing at an alarming rate. A study released just last week found that 70 percent of species traded for their fins are already nearing extinction. Sharks are the second most threatened group of animals on the planet after amphibians, and we could lose many species and populations in the coming decades.

A just-released study found that 70 percent of shark and ray species traded for their fins are already nearing extinction.

But there is time and a plan to stop this. WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) gathered its global shark and ray conservation experts in Cape Town, South Africa from July 19–21 to chart the course of the crucial next decade for shark and ray conservation.

WCS shark programs from ten countries. Graphic ©WCS.

This included ten shark conservation programs from three continents — from Argentina, to Gabon, to Madagascar and Bangladesh. Each location is a priority hotspot for the conservation of the world’s diverse but endangered sharks and rays, including hammerhead sharks, wedgefish, mako sharks, and sawfish that will all feature in summer cable TV programming but are at huge risk of extinction in the coming decades.

Endangered sharks and rays — including hammerhead sharks, wedgefish, mako sharks, and sawfish — will feature in summer cable TV programming.

The meeting focused on how to best protect these most endangered sharks and rays, where and how we work with Governments to establish laws to manage shark fisheries, and the human dimensions of shark conservation.

Representatives from WCS shark and ray conservation programs around the world gathered in Cape Town, South Africa to chart the course of shark and ray conservation the next decade. Photo credit: ©WCS.

The teams looked at available tools to save sharks, and how we can best utilize them in the sites in which we work. That includes new WCS guidance on how to identify illegally traded shark fins and ways to develop effective protected areas in the ocean that are tailored to sharks needs.

WCS has provided guidance on how to identify illegally traded shark fins and ways to develop effective protected areas in the ocean that are tailored to sharks needs.

This timely meeting and its detailed discussions, and the focus of these shark conservationists will help us deliver the ambitious 10-year WCS shark and ray strategy, which targets work where it matters most to ensure these ancient predators have a future.

Luke Warwick is Executive Director for Shark and Ray Conservation at WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society).

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