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. 

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.

Explore Our Programs

Sign up to receive updates about our work.

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please check the box below if you would like to hear from us via email:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please check out our privacy policy.

Check out our privacy policy for details on how we protect and manage your submitted data.