THE GPSR APPROACH TO THE LOOMING SHARK & RAY CRISIS
THE PROBLEM: In recent years, international and national markets for shark fin, liver oil, cartilage, leather, meat, and ray gill plates have surged, while conservation has failed to keep pace. The resulting unchecked growth of underreported and unregulated fisheries for sharks and rays has translated into an estimated 100 million sharks killed annually, with 90% population declines reported for some species and nearly a quarter of all species threatened with extinction.
THE SOLUTION: Sharks and rays are the most threatened vertebrates on the planet. Yet, the current scale of conservation efforts and investments do not match the level of urgency. The Global Partnership for Sharks and Rays (GPSR) is a direct response to this looming ecological crisis and was launched by five visionary philanthropic organizations, who share a commitment to funding the most effective shark and ray conservation projects on the planet.
THE APPROACH: The GPS Fund has identified four critical barriers to solving the Shark & Ray Crisis:
1. A Critical Lack of Knowledge: Essential scientific data are lacking, including an understanding of the number and type of species caught, landed, and traded around the world.
2. The Current Level of Public Awareness & Political Will: Public engagement is essential to build the political will for change. Increased efforts are needed on both the supply and demand side of global shark and ray markets.
3. Absence of Necessary Regulation & Policy: The vast majority of shark and ray fisheries are underreported and unregulated. Most countries haven’t yet committed to even the most basic bans on shark finning. Comprehensive regulatory and policy reform is necessary to protect species, implement sustainable fisheries management measures, reduce bycatch, and expand protected areas.
4. Gaps in Monitoring & Enforcement: The lack of regulatory and policy frameworks means there are major gaps in the ability of governments to implement conservation and management measures.
PRIORITIES: The GPSR’s grant making approach is focused on directing investments to breaking down these critical barriers to effective shark and ray conservation. Grant-making will be directed to science, policy, communications, advocacy & capacity-building from the local to global level in the following priority areas:
1) Open ocean (pelagic) shark and ray conservation in regions with the highest shark and ray mortality (targeted or incidental);
2) Coastal fishing countries with large direct and incidental take, significant domestic demand, and high biodiversity; and,
3) Countries with outsized demand for shark and ray products.