Shark Sanctuary Initiative

Shark sanctuaries are management tools for coastal and island governments seeking to reduce shark mortality in their waters.

Sanctuary designations typically prohibit the commercial fishing of all sharks, the retention of sharks caught as bycatch, and the possession, trade, and sale of sharks and shark products within a country’s full exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In 2018, we launched one of the first long-term studies focused on understanding the benefits of shark sanctuaries to sharks throughout the year, with a long-term project focusing on the Bahamas shark sanctuary.

We are implanting various species of sharks in the Bahamas with internal acoustic transmitters and monitoring their habitat use throughout the year with fixed receiver stations. Efforts are focusing primarily on Caribbean reef sharks, which are a strong model species due to their abundance, coastal life histories, economic importance through diving, and similarities to reef sharks in other parts of the world.

Impact: Data will shed light into the proportion of time the sharks remain inside the Bahamas EEZ, the degree of connectivity between islands, their social networks, and whether they are picked up in other places in the Atlantic and Caribbean. Data will advance the scientific consensus on this valuable management tool.