They may be among the ocean’s top predators,
but in reality, sharks have long been the prey.
Sharks and rays are in crisis, with 25 per cent of all the 1,000 plus species threatened with extinction, mainly due to rampant overfishing.
A very diverse array of shark species exists in Indonesia, which unfortunately, also has the highest catches of sharks globally. Sharks are caught across the entire archipelago, but the total catch is declining due to over exploitation. At least 72 per cent of the shark catch in Indonesian waters is taken as bycatch in fishing gears such as gillnet, trawl, longline tuna and purse seines, which all indiscriminately catch a wide variety of fish.
© Maksimus Yampapi/ WWF-Indonesia
© Irfan Thofiq
Despite the listing of 20 commercially important shark and ray species on CITES Appendix II (= sustainable fishing and trade only) in 2013 and 2016, declines in the populations of these species will only stop if countries like Indonesia can reduce their catches in widespread fishing gears such as gill nets. Banning the use of these gears may not be feasible in many places as impoverished communities rely on them for their livelihood.
Ideally techniques can be found to reduce shark and ray bycatch without affecting the target catch. No proven method currently exists for gill nets, but WWF-Indonesia is helping to test an experimental Electronic Shield System (ESS) that shows promising results.
We need your help to raise HK$280,000 to set up four ESS units in two critical shark habitat sites in Indonesia’s Teluk Bintuni for six months.
The overall goal of this project is to document at least one critical habitat of hammerhead sharks listed on CITES Appendix II by December 2020, and to reduce hammerhead shark bycatch by 20 per cent. Spatial planning will be integrated with a Marine Protected Area (MPA) at Teluk Bintuni, in West Papua.