Reef protectors from the region gather in St. Maarten for training

   Reef protectors from the region gather in St. Maarten for training

Trainees learn how to safely catch, tag and release sharks. (picture by Sami Kattan, Beneath the Waves)

PHILIPSBURG--Caribbean Shark Coalition (CSC) is hosting the first regional workshop to improve shark and ray science and conservation in the Greater Caribbean region. This workshop started on Monday in St. Maarten, and lasts until Friday September 16.

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 twenty participants consisting of scientists, divers, conservationists, government officials, students and marine park managers are attending, representing twelve different countries from around the Caribbean.
“Sharks and rays play key roles in maintaining the balance and biodiversity within local and regional marine ecosystems,” said Dr. Oliver Shipley, Senior Research Scientist at Beneath the Waves. “Their protection is critical for a strong and healthy future in the Greater Caribbean region.”
Dr. Shipley is leading the in-field training together with Tadzio Bervoets, director at Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA).
“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,” Bervoets said.
CSC was co-founded by DCNA and BTW in response to international calls for enhanced, collaborative conservation efforts for sharks and rays in the Greater Caribbean region.
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.
Through the workshop, CSC aims to raise awareness about the presence and importance of sharks and rays within the Caribbean. Members 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 organizers of the event said. “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.
The workshop is coordinated by 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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