Caribbean Shark Coalition will host the first regional workshop to improve shark and ray science and conservation in the Greater Caribbean region

All DC islands

The Caribbean Shark Coalition (CSC) will host the first regional workshop in St. Maarten from September 12-16, 2022.  The goal of this workshop is to provide in-field training and support the long-term goals of building capacity for shark and ray science and conservation in the Greater Caribbean region. Over 20 participants consisting of scientists, divers, conservationists, government officials, students and marine park managers will attend, representing 12 different countries from around the Caribbean.

Caribbean Shark Coalition

Photo credit: Sami Kattan

The Caribbean Shark Coalition (CSC) was co-founded by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and Beneath the Waves (BTW) in 2020 in response to international calls for enhanced, collaborative conservation efforts for sharks and rays in the Greater Caribbean region. The CSC members represent a collection of experts from NGOs, local communities, intergovernmental organizations and governments, academia, and policy institutes working together to advance the study and conservation of Caribbean sharks and rays.

Workshop Focus

Through the workshop, the CSC aims to raise awareness about the presence and importance of sharks and rays within the Caribbean. Members of the Caribbean Shark Coalition will be taught different baseline collection methods to prepare, understand, and inform others on the effectiveness of their marine park areas where sharks and rays are protected. Another important workshop goal is to generate scientific data in support of advocacy efforts to improve shark management throughout the migratory corridors of various shark species. The CSC stimulates international cooperation and data sharing which is essential to effectively protect these cross-boundary species.

Photo credit: Sami Kattan, Beneath the Waves

Participants will receive in-field training and learn how to create and set drum lines for shark tagging, equipment required for safely catching, handling, and releasing animals, data collection, sampling, and management processes, and training on the use of baited remote underwater video stations.  Furthermore, participants will learn about the benefits of additional methodologies like sediment coring, using acoustic receivers and environmental DNA analysis to build a more robust database of habitat and biodiversity. In-field training will be led by Dr. Oliver Shipley (BTW) and Tadzio Bervoets (DCNA).

Importance for other Caribbean islands

This workshop is an exercise in collaboration, fostering the relationships necessary to provide support, guidance, advice and resources, virtually and in-person, for future research. At the end of the workshop, the CSC aims to have all participants return to their home nations with real-life, hands-on experience and training for shark conservation research, and the tools and guidance required to establish their own research projects.

“Sharks and rays play key roles in maintaining the balance and biodiversity within local and regional marine ecosystems,” shares Dr. Oliver Shipley, Senior Research Scientist at BTW. “Their protection is critical for a strong and healthy future in the Greater Caribbean region.”

Tadzio Bervoets, Director at DCNA adds “with this regional workshop, we hope to foster the collaboration necessary to identify needs and provide resources for all of these stakeholders to work together not just for the conservation of sharks and rays, but the Greater Caribbean as a whole.”

The workshop is coordinated by the DCNA and BTW and is made possible thanks to funding from Blue Marine Foundation, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-NL) and operational support from GoPro for a Cause.

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