A first-of-its-kind project to study and protect sharks and rays in southwest Africa

26. September, 2022

Sharkproject supports Angola Elasmo Project

Exciting news – Sharkproject continues to grow and is supporting another promising research ambition! Since the beginning of this year, we are supporting the PhD-candidate (LMU Munich) and Sharkproject ambassador for Angola Ana Lucia Furtado Soares and her project in cooperation with Elasmoproject. Due to her background and ties to Angola the project is an absolute matter of heart to her.

The coastal waters of Angola are extremely productive and many endangered species still seem to be present in relatively high numbers. Exact estimates are scarce however. In a country characterized by political instability, data on the distribution of sharks and rays is pretty much non-existent, same as official statistics of local small-scale fisheries. At the same time, nearly no protection measures are in place and the few existing regulations are neither enforced nor controlled in any form.

For those reasons, Lucia's project is ever more important and a crucial milestone in terms of shark conservation in Angola and the whole region of southwest Africa. During the last two years she managed to get a clear picture of the overall situation and established respectful and trustworthy relationships with local communities and their fishermen. Through these connections she gathered initial information on what species are generally caught. Quickly it was realized that many already threatened shark and ray species as well as their juveniles regularly end up in the nets of small-scale fisheries. At the same time, there is a strong lack of capacity and awareness that could help to counteract these threats and potentially provide long-term benefits not only for sharks and rays but also the local community.

To expand these networks and carry out important field work, Lucia travels twice a year to Angola. Through the visit of local markets, she is one of the first persons to ever collect important biological data in this region of caught species as well as information on their use and existing market-chains. During her current visit, she held her first workshop in cooperation with the University of Namibe which was a huge success. There she managed to engage not only with other scientists and students but also local fishermen and important community members.

Sharkproject is extremely excited for the years to come. We are absolutely convinced by the importance and potential positive impact of the Angola Elasmo Project and are looking forward to a lasting cooperation with Lucia. At the same time, we would also like to sensitize people to the delicate social and humanitarian situation in the region. In areas where many have no access to regular sources of income and food, environmental protection understandably often receives little to no attention at all. This is why Lucia’s sensitivity and engagement towards the local communities is extremely valuable as any conservation project in such a region will likely fail without the acceptance and understanding of the local population.

So, please stay tuned – we are sure the next years will bring some exciting news and we will definitely share more updates with you 😊

You can also click here to find more information about the project.

Do you have questions about the project? Don´t hesitate to contact our project leader Jan Bierwirth (j.bierwirth@sharkproject.org).

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