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Caribbean Shark Coalition hosts first Greater Caribbean Workshop

Caribbean Shark Coalition

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.

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.

Caribbean Shark Coalition hosts first Greater Caribbean Workshop
Photo credit: Sami Kattan-Beneath the Waves - all rights reserved

Caribbean Shark Coalition 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 theCaribbean 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.

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).

Caribbean Shark Coalition Workshop Importance for 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, a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-NL), and operational support from GoPro for a Cause.

About the Caribbean Shark Coalition

CSC members represent a collection of experts from NGOs, local communities, intergovernmental organizations and governments, academia, and policy institutes, and local businesses, working together to advance the study and conservation of sharks and rays found in the waters of the Greater Caribbean.

The CSC will provide cross-disciplinary training, region-wide assessments, and will issue grants to CSC-member projects. The CSC will represent the interests and goals of members and, more broadly, sharks and ray species of the Caribbean at the UN (UNEP-CEP and the Regional Activity Center for the SPAW Protocols of the Cartagena Convention), IUCN-Caribbean, CITES, CMS, CBD, and other international gatherings.

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About Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance

The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance is a nonprofit organization created to safeguard nature in the Dutch Caribbean through supporting Protected Area Management Organizations. DCNA seeks to consolidate knowledge and bridge funding gaps for conservation within the Dutch Caribbean. DCNA maintains a central pillar in support, knowledge sharing and communication between the Dutch Caribbean islands.

About Beneath the Waves

Founded in 2013, Beneath the Waves is an ocean NGO using cutting-edge science to advance scientific discovery and catalyze ocean policy, with a focus on threatened species and ecosystems. Led by a group of established and emerging leaders in the marine conservation world, they have initiatives focusing on the conservation of biodiversity and highly migratory species such as sharks throughout the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Pacific Ocean. Their work has generated nearly 100 scientific publications, numerous first-ever discoveries, and they have been involved in the study and conservation of nearly 1 million square kilometers of marine protected areas.

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