Preferred conservation polices of shark researchers

paperPublished online on 12. December 2015

Preferred conservation polices of shark researchers

David Shiffman and Neil Hammerschlag


There is increasing concern about the conservation status of sharks. However, the presence of numerous different (and potentially mutually exclusive) policies complicates management implementation and public understanding of the process. Here we present the results of a survey that was distributed to members of the largest professional shark and ray research societies to assess member preferences for different conservation policies. Questions covered society member opinions towards available conservation and management policies, personal histories of getting involved in advocacy and management, and perceptions of the environmental conservation non-governmental organization (NGO) approach to shark conservation. Members of the shark and ray research community consider themselves to be knowledgeable about and actively involved in conservation and management policy. They are generally supportive of a variety of conservation policy tools that differ greatly in approach. Society members were generally less supportive of newer limit-based conservation policy tools, such as Shark Sanctuaries and shark fin bans, than of target-based fisheries management tools like fishing quotas that focus on species-specific sustainable exploitation. However, they provided few current examples of sustainable shark fisheries. Society members were generally supportive of environmental NGO efforts to conserve sharks, but raised concerns about some NGOs which are perceived as using incorrect information and focusing on the wrong problems. These results show that the ongoing debate in environmental policymaking circles between target-based natural resources management tools and limit-based conservation biology tools can also be found with respect to shark conservation and management. They also suggest that closer communication between the scientific and environmental NGO communities may be needed to recognize and reconcile differing values and objectives between these groups.

Conservation Biology, Accepted Article, DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12668



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