Project Ocean unveils new initiative - ‘Shark Parks’
Monday 3 June 2013
Where everyone can contribute to shark conservation
This summer sees the launch of a brand new Project Ocean initiative; ‘Shark Parks’, important areas of the ocean dedicated to the conservation of sharks. This new initiative uses the amazing diversity and charismatic nature of sharks to advance ocean conservation, supporting the global need for more marine protected areas (MPAs).
Working with partners around the world, ZSL will lead ‘Shark Parks’, aiming to raise awareness and deliver measurable conservation outcomes for sharks, their habitats and the wider marine environment.
Project Ocean will kick-start ‘Shark Parks’ with a launch event at Selfridges in London on 6 June, where the amazing diversity of sharks found here in the UK will be highlighted and celebrated. Many people don’t know that over 30 species of shark have been recorded in UK waters and 21 of these are resident inhabitants, relying upon the health of British seas.
The waters off the south-west coast of England are particularly rich in biodiversity and are home to species such as the thresher, porbeagle and blue shark. These waters are also one of the UK’s hotspot areas for the iconic basking shark – the second largest living fish in the world. And it is because of this incredible diversity that Project Ocean, led by ZSL and in collaboration with the Shark Trust, will be working to promote the waters around the Lizard Point in Cornwall as the ‘Lizard Point Shark Park’. Project Ocean’s vision is for this to be a special place where people can engage with sharks through citizen science programmes, where we can develop our understanding of sharks and the issues surrounding them and where we can work collaboratively with all sea-users for the benefit of sharks and the ecosystems they are part of.
Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust commented, "It is vital for the public to consider UK waters in the same frame as more traditional overseas shark conservation hotspots. 50% of UK shark, skate and ray species are now classified as threatened or near threatened on the IUCN Redlist, and despite some positive progress, additional effective conservation initiatives are vital and all stakeholders can play their part."
Further afield, ZSL will be working with international partners to identify, create and promote Shark Parks around the world. Dr Heather Koldewey, ZSL’s Head of Global Conservation Programmes said, “It is our hope that through this initiative, we’ll be able to raise much-needed awareness about the threats facing sharks and their habitats, and to improve our understanding and protection of these wonderfully charismatic species.” Candidate international Shark Parks include the Galapagos, the Sahara Seamounts and Vamizi Island in Mozambique.