Regional Shark Assessment Program:

  • The Regional Shark Assessment Program (RSCP) run by PERSGA aim at establishing a regular periodic assessment of the status of sharks and their management in the region, in order to assist in developing effective management policy, identifying cost effective strategies, ensuring sustainability, and strengthening regional cooperation in management and conservation of shark stocks in the region.

  • PERSGA has prepared a questionnaire to be used by fisheries authorities for assessing the current status of sharks in the member states. The questionnaire feedbacks were collated to constitute the basis of discussions in a regional meeting of representatives of fisheries management authorities in PERSGA countries, which was held during 11-12 October at PERSGA Headquarter in Jeddah. The main objective of the regional meeting was to prepare for developing the subsequent regional shark status report and discuss current issues related to the management of shark resources in the region.

  • The two days of the meeting were structured around alternation of plenary talks, presentation of the country reports and discussions on the specified issues and topics as proposed in the meeting agenda.

  • The meeting discussed current issues on shark management and regional cooperation and drawn several recommendations regarding coordination of shark legislative, management and conservation issues; cooperation in shark research; options, priority and future actions to be implemented by the Regional Shark Assessment Program.

The meeting recommended the following:

  • Establish a regional database for shark stocks information and capture data at PERSGA.
  • Improve the quality of data collection and monitoring, considering species compositions and weights in the catches.
  • Develop a Regional Action Plan (RAP-Sharks) in light of the International Plan of Action for Conservation of Sharks (IPAC-Sharks).
  • Revision of legislations and improve regulations for protection of sharks.
  • Develop national laws and regulations for prohibiting targeting sharks by fishing.
  • Adopt mechanisms and regulations to reduce incidental capture of sharks and shark bycatch.
  • Promote regional coordination in legislative and management issues through networking, regular meetings and the regular shark assessment process.
  • Facilitate cooperation and coordination in control of illegal shark fishing, marketing and export.
  • Undertake a regional study for assessment of shark breeding sites and important habitats.
  • Encourage research studies on shark biology and ecology in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
  • Undertake a regional study and develop guidelines for reducing the impacts of fisheries bycatch and incidental capture on shark stocks.
  • Seeking mechanisms for mobilizing funds to support shark research in the region.
  • Provide the regional database at PERSGA with the results of recent research dissertations and surveys focusing on sharks in the member states.
  • Conduct regional and national training workshops on shark taxonomy, species identification and data collection, and stock assessment.
  • Exchange expertise for training capacities among PERSGA countries through the Regional Shark Assessment Program (RSCP).

Introduction:

  • The biological and ecological profile of elasmobranches makes them highly vulnerable to over-fishing. Most sharks are long lived, with comparatively slow growth and late age of first sexual maturity (ranging between 3 and 35 years in different species). This, together with their low fecundity confers sharks with very low reproductive potential compared to other marine fauna. Consequently, the resilience of elasmobranch stocks is comparatively very low. At the ecosystem level, the top predator niche occupied by sharks renders them a crucial role as regulators of other species densities and custodians of marine ecosystem balance. Empirical evidences strongly suggest that over-fishing and depletion of sharks cause severe impacts on marine ecosystem. Recent findings have elucidated the cascading effects of the loss of apex predatory sharks from a coastal ocean (Myers et al. 2007), which include a variety of unexpected impacts such as decline of shellfish and coral bleaching. The world shark fishing has been steadily increasing since 1950s. In the past two decades, however, the pressure on shark resources has rapidly magnified with the concomitant increase in the shark-fin trade. The Red Sea shark stocks are exposed to over-fishing as indicated by the reported declines in captures and the disproportionate abundance of smaller sized individuals in the catches (PERSGA 2006).

  • PERSGA has undertaken several steps addressing conservation of elasmobranches in the region. These included preparation of a regional shark identification guide, organizing training workshops on shark taxonomy and stock assessment, and drawing up recommendations for management and monitoring. Such actins were in concurrence with the international efforts (particularly the IPOA-sharks developed by FAO).

  • Building on its previous reaching, PERSGA decided to carry out assessment of the current shark status in the region, as a first step en route for initiating a long-term Regional Shark Conservation Program (RSCP). The major aim of PERSGA’s RSCP is to establish a regular periodic assessment of the status of sharks and their management in the region, in order to assist in developing effective management policy, identifying cost effective strategies, ensuring sustainability, and strengthening regional cooperation.

  • PERSGA has prepared a questionnaire (Annex III) to be used by fisheries authorities as a template for assessing the current status of sharks in the member states. The questionnaire feedbacks were collated to constitute the basis of discussions in the regional meeting of representatives of fisheries management authorities in PERSGA countries, which was held during 11-12 October at PERSGA Headquarter in Jeddah.

  • The main objective of the regional meeting was to prepare for developing the subsequent regional shark status report and discuss current issues related to the management of shark resources in the region. The present meeting report provides a summing up of the meeting proceedings and recommendations

With regard to shark capture data collection and exchange:

  • Establish a regional database for shark stocks information and capture data at PERSGA.
  • Improve the quality of data collection and monitoring, considering species compositions and weights in the catches

With regard to regional cooperation in management and conservation of shark resources:

  • Develop a Regional Action Plan (RAP-Sharks) in light of the International Plan of Action for Conservation of Sharks (IPAC-Sharks).
  • Revision and ensure existence of legislations and regulations for protection of sharks.
  • Develop national laws and regulations for prohibiting targeting sharks by fishing.
  • Adopt mechanisms and regulations to reduce incidental capture of sharks and shark bycatch.
  • Promote regional coordination in legislative and management issues through regional networking, regular meetings and the regional shark status assessment process.
  • Cooperation and coordination in control and surveillance of illegal shark fishing, marketing and export.

With regards to scientific research addressing shark management and conservation:

  • Undertake a regional study to assess and identify shark breeding sites and important habitats.
  • Carry out a study for revision of legislations/ regulations related to shark protection in the region.
  • Encourage research studies on shark biology and ecology in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
  • Undertake a regional study and develop guidelines for reducing the impacts of fisheries bycatch and incidental capture on shark stocks.
  • Seeking mechanisms for mobilizing funds to support shark research in the region.
  • Provide the regional database at PERSGA with the results of recent research dissertations and surveys focusing on sharks in the member states.

With regards to capacity building and training:

  • Conduct regional and national training workshops on shark taxonomy, species identification and data collection.
  • Organize training workshop on methods of shark stock assessment.
  • Provide mechanisms for exchange of expertise and cooperation in training capacities among PERSGA countries through the Regional Shark Conservation Program (RSCP).

 

The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden