To date there have been more than 1,400 Our Ocean commitments across 6 themes submitted by almost 350 organizations across all sectors – governments, businesses, academic institutions, and civil society. Over 500 commitments have been self-reported as 100% complete and almost 500 self-report some form of progress. In this Our Ocean Palau blog series, we highlight Our Ocean commitments and their positive impact.
The Shark Conservation Fund: Global Shark and Ray Conservation
The number of species of sharks, rays and chimaeras, known together as chondrichthyan fishes, facing “a global extinction crisis” has more than doubled in less than a decade, according to a survey published in the journal Current Biology in 2021.
The comprehensive survey funded by the Shark Conservation Fund concluded that, because of overfishing, habitat destruction, illegal trade and climate change, over 31% of the ocean’s sharks were threatened with extinction.
The widespread depletion of these fishes, particularly sharks and rays, jeopardizes the health of entire ocean ecosystems and food security for many nations around the globe. Because of their importance to ocean ecosystems, sharks and rays are a critical place to focus.
In 2017, the Shark Conservation Fund, formerly known as the Global Partnership for Sharks and Rays announced at the 5th Our Ocean Conference in Malta, its plan to award $8 million over a two year period to support shark and ray conservation around the world.
Following this Commitment, more than 60 grants were awarded in selected countries to protect endemic sharks and rays that are threatened with extinction; promote sustainable trade in shark and ray products through the implementation of management measures for species listed on Appendices I or II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); and sustainable fisheries management through regulations adopted by regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
SCF exceeded its 2017 Our Ocean commitment to award $8 million over two years to support shark and ray conservation around the world with an ultimate investment of $10 million that catalyzed an additional investment of $13 million.
This effort netted major conservation outcomes for sharks and rays, including:
- Securing full legal protection for 198, approximately 20% of all shark and ray species in key countries.
- Establishing 207,185 square kilometers of shark and ray beneficial MPAs, with an additional 504,238 square kilometers under development.
- Initiating new shark and ray management measures in 19 countries.
“Sharks and their habitats are leading indicators of the well-being of entire ocean ecosystems.” Lee Crockett, Executive Director Shark Conservation Fund. “SCF is well equipped to build on five years of collaboration and conservation wins with a new ambitious Our Ocean Commitment in Palau that will have exponential returns for ocean health and biodiversity.”