Description/achievement of initiative
The development of the Pacific Shark Heritage Programme will assist the significant improvement for marine shark and ray species throughout the Pacific region by improving shark management at both national and regional levels. The Programme will highlight the crucial role sharks and rays play not just in the marine ecosystem, but also in the cultural heritage of the Pacific Island nations. Successful development of the shark management assessment of the Programme will allow replicable benefits on a global scale and put all partners at the cutting edge of shark conservation.Part of the project aims to develop a diverse set of innovative methodologies to assess shark populations and their critical habitats within Pacific Islands' territorial waters. This will be done by working in partnership with both James Cook University, one of the world's leading shark research institutions, as well as organisations such as the University of the South Pacific working at the cutting edge of data acquisition technology and citizen science. These methodologies, once trialled and tested, will provide much needed population data which will be used to develop long-term sustainable management strategies for sharks and rays. The second aspect of the project is to ensure that shark & ray tourism operations develop a set of best management practice guidelines. Sharks and rays are a significant draw for tourists to small island states, generating significant income. Yet there are no guidelines to ensure that these operations ensure benefits to local communities as well as to conservation of a precious resource. WWF aims to develop a set of best management practice guidelines that will allow nations to develop long-term eco-tourism strategies that will benefit local communities.Collaboration with national governments and regional bodies is central to the long-term conservation of sharks and diverse roles sharks play in Pacific Island cultures.Endorsement of the Pacific Shark Heritage Programme by governments willing to work towards sustainable management of sharks & rays will significantly improve the long-term prospects of sharks on a global scale.
To develop and deliver a suite of workable and replicable shark assessment methodologies, WWF and TRAFFIC will have to work in partnership with a number of organisations to ensure data generated is scientifically robust, replicable in the field and contributes towards sustainable shark management strategies. The main action for the project is to develop the Shark Assessment Tookit, and the activities and outputs are outlined below:Activities:WWF, TRAFFIC & partners will develop a draft set of methodologies to be included within the Shark Assessment Toolkit. These methodologies will draw on current practices developed within the WWF/TRAFFIC network, from cutting edge research techniques and from wider data acquisition, and will include assessments on shark and ray populations and critical habitats.Trialling of methodologies within Pacific Island Countries & Territories will continue throughout the life of the projectThe development of the shark & ray tourism best practice guidelines will include partnerships with local dive operators as well as tourism officials & ministries:Activities:Completion of case studies outlining current shark/ray encountersProduction of report to steering group & technical committeeDevelopment of best practice guidelines
Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer
An MoU will be developed between WWF/TRAFFIC and regional research organisations which will enable sharing of expertise throughout the Pacific region.WWF will liaise with relevant government departments to ensure any lack of capacity issues will be addressed.
Coordination mechanisms/governance structure
WWF and TRAFFIC will lead the coordination and development of the programme, leading a technical advisory panel to develop shark and ray population and habitat assessments methodologies. These methodologies will assist Small Islands & Developing States meet requirements to develop a National Plan of Action for sharks, as recommended by the Food & Agriculture Organisation.Quarterly meetings of the steering committee will be held during the lifetime of the partnership, with ongoing discussions with governments to develop National Plans of Action.Research efforts will be conducted within academic institutions within the region, with all work coordinated by WWF.
WWF; TRAFFIC; James Cook University; University of the South Pacific; SPREP