Small Grant Program 2018

Capacity building for implementation of CITES shark and ray listings: workshops in Vietnam

Grantee: ADM Capital Foundation
Type: Policy Implementation
Location: Vietnam
Grant Amount: $24,395
Duration: One year

In recent years Vietnam has emerged as a primary re-export market for the shark fins imported into Hong Kong.  This grant will allow for capacity building and training workshops to be conducted for Vietnam’s government officials to facilitate enforcement of the CITES trade convention regulations at local ports.  Techniques to visually distinguish between regulated and non-regulated shark fin species will be a key part of the training to increase efficiency of inspections.  

Stan Shay, Bloom Association

CITES shark and ray listings implementation: Capacity building fin identification workshops (Taiwan)

Grantee: BLOOM Association
Type: Policy Implementation
Location: Taiwan
Grant Amount: $25,000
Duration: One year

Taiwan is not only a trader of shark fins, but also a key shark fisheries territory.  Partnering with International NGOs and experts, this project will host capacity building workshops for Taiwan’s government officials, providing training on visual identification techniques for shark fins and mobular gill plates and on the proper preparation and review of trade documents.  Supported by the grant, the workshops will focus on increasing regulation and monitoring capacity for CITES-listed species (species protected under the international trade convention) to deter illegality.

 Dawn Goebbels 

Improving species catch data collection for the conservation and management of sharks and rays in Kenya

Grantee: Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO East Africa)
Type: Research / Management
Location: Kenya
Grant Amount: $24,800
Duration: One year

Reporting on sharks and rays in fisheries catch data in Kenya is aggregated into a single group called "sharks and rays." As such critical species-specific information on catch composition and trends is lost, thereby hampering the development of a conservation and management plan for these important and vulnerable species. This project aims to: i) introduce species level identification in the collection of catch and effort data on sharks and rays at three primary fish landing sites and ii) assess species specific threats from fishing to develop a policy brief for government management agencies. The project will also facilitate an increased understanding and awareness of the ecological importance of sharks and rays among fishers and managers. The information generated from this project will complement current efforts in developing Kenya’s National Plan of Action for the Conservation of Sharks, as well as be fed directly to regional bodies such as the Shark Species Specialist Group of IUCN and the Nairobi Convention to contribute to regional strategy development on sharks and rays.

Timothy Godfrey

Improving the understanding of threatened wedgefish and guitarfish to inform CITES assessments

Grantee: Brooke M. D'Alberto, James Cook University
Type: Research / Management
Location: Global
Grant Amount: $24,650
Duration: One year

Wedgefish and guitarfish are among the most threatened groups of sharks and rays due to their large size, high exposure to fisheries, high value of products in trade and increasing loss of habitat. However, there is limited information on their biology worldwide. This project will increase the biological information available to guide conservation efforts for these threatened species, on a regional (for Indonesia and Southeast Asia) and global scale, such as detailed life history (age, growth and reproduction), species distribution, abundance and diversity, population productivity and extinction risk. This information will then be used to inform international conservation arrangements such as CITES as well as local fishery risk assessments and management plans, and to increase awareness of the conservation issues surrounding this group of shark-like-rays. 


Restoring the Pacific Angelshark population in Peru: increasing research, management and policy

Grantee: ecOceanica
Type: Research / Management
Location: Peru
Grant Amount: $24,360
Duration: One year

The Pacific angelshark, Squatina californica, is categorized as Near Threatened by the IUCN due to a population decline of over 30% in the last 3 generations. In Peru, this species was the 6th most fished shark from 1996 to 2001. However, from 2001 to 2015 its capture declined by 97% and spite of this it still does not have any management measures. This reduction is worrisome as there is a global concern about the extinction risk of all species of angel sharks. This project will collect important biological and fisheries information to contribute to the development of management strategies to allow for the sustainable use of this species in Peru.

Anna Flam

Contributing to the conservation and management of sharks and rays in Mozambique

Grantee: The Marine Megafauna Foundation
Type: Research / Conservation / Education
Location: Mozambique
Grant Amount: $24,995
Duration: One year

This project addresses threats to manta rays and whale sharks, while concurrently working to reduce the impact of marine illiteracy and support natural resource preservation.  The Marine Megafauna Foundation’s primary focus is preventing the extinction of shark and rays and reversing their drastic decline. This will be done through the combination of research, education and conservation to affect change in attitudes, behavior and policy to improve the protection of marine resources at a local and national level in Mozambique.


 Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines 

Implementing outreach and advocacy activities for the passage of the Philippine Shark Conservation Act

Grantee: Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines
Type: Policy Advocacy / Education
Location: Philippines
Grant Amount: $25,000
Duration: One year

The utilization of approximately 200 species of sharks and rays in the Philippines are varied and

conflicting: they are a fishery resource, utilized by coastal communities and profitable to traders in an industry that is still largely unmanaged, as well as a tourism asset with much potential to develop. The goal of this project is to ensure the sustainability of shark and ray utilization in the country by gathering support towards the passage of a national policy - a legal framework for the conservation, protection, and regulation of fisheries and other threats.



SharkTraits – a global life history trait database for sharks and rays 

Grantee: Dr. Holly Kindsvater, Rutgers University
Type: Research / Management
Location: Global
Grant Amount: $25,000
Duration: One year

Almost a quarter of shark and ray species are threatened and nearly half are Data Deficient. Science-based conservation and management of data-sparse fished species like these can be held up by gaps in our knowledge of species biology, especially information on maturation, reproduction, and lifespan. These traits are used to calculate population productivity (maximum growth rate), which is integral to making the case for protection of threatened species under international trade agreements such as CITES. This project will involve workshops collecting and collating trait data which will be organized as a centralized database of shark and ray life history traits, "SharkTraits". In the near term, SharkTraits will be essential to the proposed listing of five shark and ray species at the next CITES Convention of Parties (CoP18) in May 2019. In the long term, the database will be curated and maintained in collaboration with the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, which is tasked with ongoing assessments of sharks and rays for the IUCN Red List. 


 Mohammed Iragi

Survey of the nursery areas of green sawfish (Pristis zijsron) in the Sudanese Red Sea

Grantee: Igbal SidAhmed Elhassan, University of Bahri
Type: Research / Conservation
Location: Sudanese Red Sea
Grant Amount: $25,000
Duration: One year

This grant will enable the project team to survey the nursery areas of green sawfish along the Sudanese Red Sea to assess the number of new born and juvenile green sawfish in these areas. The ecology of these areas will also be studied.  The project also aims to survey areas where adult green sawfish were found resting on the sand during low tide.  Tissue samples from historical rostra, carcass and from live sawfish will be collected to study the genetic diversity of this species. Environmental DNA (eDNA) will be collected from areas where green sawfish were historically common to investigate whether they are present now.  An education and awareness campaign on the status of green sawfish will be conducted among the fishermen and their communities in conjunction with the survey.  Fishermen will be trained on detangling sawfish rostrum from their nets. The Marine Fisheries Administration will be involved in these surveys to help ensure the protection of these habitats, as well as the survival and recovery of green sawfish in the Sudanese Red Sea. 

Evaluating the efficacy of a marine reserve for endemic and threatened sharks off South Africa

Grantee: Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, University of Miami
Workstream: Focusing on the most threatened species  
Location: South Africa
Grant Amount: $25,000
Duration: One year

The waters of South Africa are home to a diverse array of sharks, many of which are data-deficient, endemic and/or threatened – and its southern cape harbors one of the world’s largest marine reserves, the De Hoop Nature Reserve (DHNR). While sharks are protected within the reserve, the reef habitat they occupy extends outside its boundary, eastward for approximately five km; in this unregulated area, sharks are vulnerable to shark longline fishing occurring there. This project will investigate if extending the DHNR boundary to include the entire reef will provide direct protections for these endemic and/or threatened species. Cape Nature, the public institution that manages the DHNR, will use the results of this study to determine if the boundaries should be modified as part of its ongoing evaluation of the reserve design.

Fundacion Mundo Azul - Guatemala 

Enhancing morphological tool to identify shark fins: Combating the international illegal trade

Grantee: Universidad Veritas, San Juan Costa Rica
Workstreams: Advancing data and technology and CITES: Supporting new listings and building capacity for full implementation
Location: Latin America
Grant Amount: $21,300
Duration: One year

The enforcement of CITES regulations is a critical issue, mainly due to the deficiencies in differentiating unprotected shark species from those listed by CITES. This project aims to develop a new software and cellphone App for the identification of shark fin species, offering a simple and efficient alternative to regulate international trade. Image analysis will be carried out to achieve this goal based on digital invariant correlations between an image problem and the species-specific composite filter (SSCF) created. The SSCF has information on morphological variations of the target species (i.e., species listed by CITES) for each type of fin and shark species. This information will be integrated to create software and an App. Both tools will be tested at ¨shark fins ID workshops¨ performed on different countries, providing a different approach that can ensure adequate enforcement compliance with CITES easy, fast, and reliable identification of shark species.

 WCS Bangladesh 

Build a national reporting system for Forest officials to protect threatened sharks and rays

Grantee: Nature Conservation Society  
Workstreams: Focusing on the most threatened species
Location: Bangladesh
Grant Amount: $25,000
Duration: One year

The project will establish a locally feasible reporting system supported by technical training and motivational mentoring for Forest Officials posted across Bangladesh. Its aim is to institutionalize and standardize the information available to the national wildlife management authority to determine the effectiveness of and compliance with national legislation and international commitments for the protection of sharks and rays in Bangladesh. 

CITES sharks: Management workshop for Guatemalan customs, fisheries officers, and private exporters

Grantee: Centro de Rescate para Especies Marinas Amenazadas-CREMA   
Workstreams: CITES: Supporting new listings and building capacity for full implementation   
Location: Guatemala
Grant Amount: $5,000
Duration: One year

The international trade of shark fins represents a main threat to the survival of threatened and endangered shark species. Proper implementation of trade restrictions through CITES first requires capacity building on species specific identification of products in all stages of commerce (i.e., landing, processing and exporting), involving an array of government institutions. The government of Guatemala has expressed its resolve to move the CITES implementation process forward in 2019, with over 60 government officers signed up for this two-day Shark Fin Identification Workshop. The grantee expects the workshop to set the stage to reach future CITES implementation goals for Guatemala in the near and mid future.

Hen Mpoano  

Improving conservation of sharks and rays in Ghana through education and sensitization

Grantee: Hen Mpoano
Workstream: Curbing unsustainable fishing
Location: Ghana
Grant Amount: $25,000
Duration: One year

Ghana is a signatory to the Conservation of Migratory Shark (CMS) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This MoU requires that listed migratory sharks are conserved through provision of adequate management measures by signatory countries.  However, increasing shark fin trade is driving shark exploitation in Ghana’s territorial waters. This project seeks to increase public understanding of the importance and benefits of sharks to the marine ecosystem and promote implementation of shark conservation policies.  The project will work with the Fisheries Commission to train local fishermen in data collection.  Data collected on shark and ray will inform sustainable management measure designs for these species in Ghana’s territorial waters.  The project will also engage fishing communities through educational campaigns on shark and ray conservation.  This will be critical in ensuring that management action plan developed for the shark and ray fisheries are accepted and owned by fishing communities.

Neil Cook, ERIC 

Sustainable Shark and Ray Management Regulations and Continued Population Monitoring in Tobago

Grantee: Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC)
Workstream: Curbing unsustainable fishing
Location: Tobago
Grant Amount: $24,966
Duration: One year

North-East Tobago hosts a complex marine ecosystem including healthy coral reef formations, pelagic systems, and islets. The area has been nominated for a 60,000ha MPA, a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere designation and as a National Heritage Site. The local shark fishery is non-target and non-commercial; a local ray fishery does not exist. The main threats are non-local, commercial long-liners. 

Through government and civil society collaboration, the project aims to develop sustainable shark and ray management regulations and to support ongoing shark and ray population monitoring which are required to inform the design and implementation of these regulations.

Md Kutub Uddin  

Investigating the Past and Present of Sawfish in Bangladesh

Grantee: Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University
Workstream: Focusing on the most threatened species
Location: Bangladesh
Grant Amount: $19,914
Duration: One year

The grant will support fisherfolks and broader coastal communities to report the encounter and landing of sawfish in Bangladesh.  Mostly based on volunteer monitoring by the trained coastal citizenry, the data will be available through an open access web-portal.  In addition to mainstream sawfish conservation at the national level, it will contribute to improving the global assessment of sawfish.

Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. Our work is divided into six main program areas – Wildlands Conservation, Oceans Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Transforming California, and Innovative Solutions.

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