SSC Shark Specialist Group receives over US$200,000

Gland, Switzerland (IUCN) 30.05.02. The SSC Shark Specialist Group (SSG) has received funding from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Packard Foundation to support its important and broad-ranging work.

Blue Shark

WCS has donated almost US$15,000 for the publication of the global shark status report: Sharks, rays and chimaeras: the status of the chondrichthyan fishes. For the past few years SSG members, with funds from the Audubon Society and the US State Department, have been assembling detailed status reports on over 100 elasmobranch (shark and ray) species, regional reports on the status of shark fisheries, information on taxonomy, trade, economics, and conservation and management actions. The report, due for publication in late 2002, will be the most comprehensive resource documenting the worldwide threat to sharks, and will provide the "big picture" in terms of conservation needs. It will be distributed to SSG members, fisheries departments, universities and other research institutions, IUCN, national conservation groups, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and SSG donors.

The Packard Foundation has donated US$200,000 as core funds for the SSG to carry out vital work over the next two years including work associated with the implementation of the FAO International Plan of Action for Shark Conservation and Management (IPOA-Sharks). SSG members are being increasingly called upon to contribute to FAO technical consultations and workshops, and to provide advice to States and regional management bodies seeking to develop Shark Plans.

Regional shark management training workshops will take place with the help of the Packard funds, to raise awareness and generate momentum towards implementing the IPOA-Sharks. SSG members will also be closely involved with assessment of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) shark listing proposals and trade reviews for future Conferences of the Parties. The funds will allow the SSG Co-Chairs and Programme Officer to attend the relevant meetings, and SSG members to devote time to proposal analyses. The group is also responsible for completing Red List assessments for the more than 1,000 species of chondrichthyan (cartilaginous) fish during the next three years. Packard funds will be used for a Red List workshop, to present results at international meetings, and for work to continue to resolve the difficult issues associated with listings for marine species.

The SSG website (hosted by the Florida Museum of Natural History) will be significantly enhanced increasing its effectiveness in providing users with accurate and up-to-date information, and the SSG's newsletter Shark News will continue to be provided free of charge to an international readership.

These generous contributions from WCS and the Packard Foundation, together with the long-term grant-aid which the SSG has been receiving from the US State Department, and a three-year grant from the UK government (the latter to employ the SSG Programme Officer from 2001-03), will enable the SSG not only to keep pace with, but to continue to take the lead on developments aimed at achieving improved conservation and management of elasmobranchs, and to offer advice and technical support where it is needed.

See the Shark Specialist Group website

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