When did you join the CCI?
The Pew Charitable Trusts global shark conservation program joined the Extended Secretariat in 2014.
Why did your organization join the CCI?
The Pew Charitable Trusts global shark conservation program was asked to join the Extended Secretariat in an advisory role following the May 2013 commitment by CCI members to act to protect sharks and rays in the region within two years. Worldwide, Pew has helped nine countries and overseas territories create and implement shark sanctuaries since 2009.
How is the CCI important to marine and coastal conservation in the Caribbean?
The CCI provides a platform for governments and corporations to solidify their commitments to marine and coastal conservation in the Caribbean and to show that the region is taking a leadership role. Through the CCI, governments have committed to be leaders within the region as well, setting a goal to effectively conserve and manage at least 20 percent of the marine and coastal environment by 2020. Corporations have joined the effort by committing to improve their business practices. In addition, it is encouraging to see the CCI take on new and urgent concerns, including the need for shark and ray protections and the imperative to dramatically accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.
What are your organization's main conservation priority actions under the CCI? Or what is your organization's role in the CCI?
The Pew Charitable Trusts global shark conservation program strongly supports the commitment made by the CCI governments at the Summit of Political and Business Leaders meeting in May 2013 to establish regional shark and ray protections by 2015. Worldwide, commercial fisheries kill about 100 million sharks every year, an unsustainable number. As top predators, these animals play an important role in maintaining the structure and function of marine ecosystems, such as seagrass beds and coral reefs. Science shows that sharks help preserve the health of these reefs and that depletion of the species could result in loss of coral cover. At the same time, sharks are increasingly a draw for tourism, especially for divers, and are worth far more alive than dead. By establishing permanent protections for sharks, governments will strengthen the resilience of marine ecosystems and help industries that are dependent on a healthy ocean.
Pew has worked with governments, including The Bahamas, to establish shark sanctuaries throughout their national waters. The government actions ban commercial fishing for sharks in the sanctuaries and often include prohibitions on the sale and trade of sharks and shark parts, such as fins. Pew offers technical expertise and outreach support for governments interested in pursuing shark and ray protections.
How is the CCI approach different from past approaches to marine and coastal conservation?
Many shark species are highly migratory, and their management requires regional, transboundary, and international cooperation. As a regional organization, CCI helps Caribbean countries collaborate on policy development and implementation. A similar model has been used in Micronesia to create the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary as part of the Micronesia Challenge.
CCI's focus on shark conservation represents a unique chance to capitalize on recent and compelling research that has highlighted the relationship between robust, intact shark populations and the well-being of tropical coral reef ecosystems. Evidence now shows that sharks play a functional and top-down role in maintaining healthy reefs. Loss of sharks fundamentally changes the marine ecosystem—from a predator-dominated food web to one dominated by microbes and macroalgae. In this way, sharks' role in the marine environment is analogous to that of trees in a rain forest: the nutrients in the system are tied up in these large, dominant organisms. When they are removed, more weedy species are able to move in, and ecosystem diversity and support functions are diminished. The CCI partnership represents a novel and unprecedented opportunity to frame this powerful message that healthy reefs need sharks.
Who is your CCI focal point?
- name:KerriLynn Miller
- title:Senior Associate, Global Shark Conservation
- address:901 E St., NW | Washington, DC 20004