MigraMar attends first fully international elasmobranch conference

MigraMar’s Marine Biologist Cesar Peñaherrera presented at the Sharks International conference held in Cairns, Australia.

The Sharks International conference was the first of its kind.

B.Sc. Peñaherrera, of the Charles Darwin Foundation in Galapagos, presented an analysis of the main interactions between sharks and humans in activities such as fisheries and research, but mainly focusing on tourism interactions.

Sharks International
The aim of the conference was to provide a forum for the world’s leading shark and ray experts, along with students and up and coming early career researchers, to get together to share ideas, update information and report on the progress of the most recent scientific studies in the field of shark and ray ecology.

Sharing MigraMar’s commitment to international cooperation, the conference recognised that as these marine species become more affected by human and environmental factors on a global scale, international approaches to their study and management will be increasingly important.
Keynote speakers included Barry Bruce, Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation at Hobart, Australia, Christopher Lowe from California State University, Long Beach, USA, Geremy Cliff from KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board in Umhlanga, South Africa and John West from Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia.

Our findings
Abstract from ‘Human-Shark Interactions in the Galapagos Islands’
Peñaherrera-Palma, Ca, Hearn, Arb, Ketchum, JTb, Nicolaides, Fc, Espinoza, Ed, Henderson, Se, Wolff, Ma, & Klimley, APb aCharles Darwin Foundation, Galapagos Island, Ecuador; bUniversity of California, Davis; cGalapagos National Park; dFishing National Institute of Ecuador; eConservation International
Thirty-one species of sharks are thought to inhabit the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR), either as permanent residents or seasonal migrants.

Human-shark interactions in the GMR are an interesting case study of the problems facing multi-use reserves. Although they are protected, sharks are still targeted illegally by local and national or foreign industrial fishers for their fins – an example of how local processes are driven by external pressures.

Like many other places, tourism is seen as the key to conserving shark species while providing income for the local population.

We analyze some of the positive and negative issues relating to shark tourism, and discuss the political use to which infrequent shark attacks have been put. We also present the research initiatives since 2006 to determine the distribution and abundance of sharks in the GMR within the context of the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and how this information will feed into the development of national and regional Plans of Action.

We suggest that as an iconic marine group of species, the combination of economic incentives and participation in conservation research related to sharks might be used to help create a sustainable island vision in a community which is currently characterized by recent immigrants with a frontier mentality towards its resources.

MigraMar at the conference
The talk started briefly reviewing the shark finning history in the Galapagos and the actual state of fishing pressure and the authorities response to it. Cesar shared interesting insights on the economic value of sharks and its economic impact on the local community, as well as information on charge capacity and sharks attacks.

The presentation ended showing the current trends in sharks research in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, as the third focus point of human-shark interactions.

This presentation was developed as a preliminary results from a project focus on determine the economic importance of sharks for the local population of the Galapagos Islands.

You can download the presentation here.