Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

The importance of research and public opinion to conservation management of sharks and rays: a synthesis

C. A. Simpfendorfer A E , M. R. Heupel A B , W. T. White C and N. K. Dulvy D

A Fishing and Fisheries Research Centre, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

B Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3 Townsville, Qld 4810, Australia.

C CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research, Wealth from Oceans Flagship, Hobart, Tas. 7000, Australia.

D Earth to Ocean Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, V5A 1S5, Canada.

E Corresponding author. Email: colin.simpfendorfer@jcu.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 62(6) 518-527 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF11086
Submitted: 12 April 2011  Accepted: 2 May 2011   Published: 24 June 2011

Abstract

Growing concern for the world’s shark and ray populations is driving the need for greater research to inform conservation management. A change in public perception, from one that we need to protect humans from sharks to one where we must protect sharks from humans, has added to calls for better management. The present paper examines the growing need for research for conservation management of sharks and rays by synthesising information presented in this Special Issue from the 2010 Sharks International Conference and by identifying future research needs, including topics such as taxonomy, life history, population status, spatial ecology, environmental effects, ecosystem role and human impacts. However, this biological and ecological research agenda will not be sufficient to fully secure conservation management. There is also a need for research to inform social and economic sustainability. Effective conservation management will be achieved by setting clear priorities for research with the aid of stakeholders, implementing well designed research projects, building the capacity for research, and clearly communicating the results to stakeholders. If this can be achieved, it will assure a future for this iconic group, the ecosystems in which they occur and the human communities that rely on them.

Additional keywords: chondrichthyes, research priorities, sustainable use.


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