Sharks and rays are at risk worldwide because they are over-targeted in fishing, either as intended catch or as by-catch. Sharks are caught often for their fins for shark fin soup. So-called ‘shark finning’ is the gruesome act of cutting the fins off of a shark while often be alive during the ordeal. The valuable fins are sold and the shark often discarded like trash, dying a slow death. Shark fins don’t really add to the taste of this soup, it is merely a status symbol in China and a few other countries. As a result, yearly 70-100 million sharks are caught and most of the 400 shark species have dramatically declined in numbers, in some cases even with 70-90%.
Some ray species, such as the endangered Manta Ray, are targeted for their gills. In China the gills are used for medicine (total baloney of course!). Just like shark finning, the fishers only target the gills, not the meat of the ray.
For this project we developed awareness materials for fishermen, school children and the general public in collaboration with Cordio. With Bahari Hai (Watamu) and thru local partners we are targeting a wide array of stakeholders along the Kenyan coast since mid 2023. Education is key in protecting these important species. Part of the program is also to identify shark and ray nursery grounds, research on alternative fishing gear and advice local decision makers.