Far from the shallows - just some of the amazing ways we're working for wildlife, below water

by ZSL on

At ZSL, our vision is a world where wildlife thrives. Globally, we play an important role in the conservation of wildlife both on land, and below water

Below are just a few of the amazing ways we're delving beneath the surface of our oceans, rivers and wetlands - in the pursuit of improving wildlife health, bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction and fostering sustainable relationships between people and wildlife.


Angel Shark Conservation Network

ZSL hosts the Angel Shark Conservation Network - a multi-disciplinary group who are working together to better understand and protect the three angel shark species found in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea.

An angel shark on the sea bed surrounded by other fish with diver in background
Angel shark

Angel sharks are some of the most endangered fish in European waters. This family of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) are extremely susceptible to the impacts of fishing and habitat degradation, due to their coastal habitation and biology (large, flat-bodied animals with low fecundity). Species of angel shark were once widespread throughout the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Seas. All are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species and are part of one of the most threatened family of sharks and ray in the world.


Anguillid Eel Conservation

Anguillid eel stocks are under pressure globally. Here in the UK, through research, river improvements, public engagement and policy advice, we work in partnership with the Environment Agency and a network of other organisations to address the key conservation issues facing eels.


Beyond the UK, ZSL’s collaborative project in the Philippines is all about tackling threats to eels, protecting the freshwater environment, and building the capacity of the communities who rely upon these resources. Further, we implement eel conservation at the international level to ensure science is being fed into UN conventions relating to both trade and migratory species, engage governments in key regions such as Europe and East Asia, and carry out IUCN Red List Assessments to characterise the conservation status of these species.


Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science

The Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science, coordinated by ZSL, is a multi-disciplinary and highly collaborative programme bringing together more than 70 experts from across the world to research and improve our understanding of how best to protect the ocean. Research focuses on the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) which contains 58 tiny islands and the world’s largest living coral atoll, The Great Chagos Bank, and due to the remote location and limited human influence, BIOT acts as an important reference site to study the effectiveness of large marine protected areas and the impact of climate change. The programme investigates a variety of themes, from ecology, role and behaviour of target species to the impacts of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the BIOT marine reserve.This programme is supported by the Bertarelli Foundation

The Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science 2018 Symposium, credit: Bertarelli Foundation


Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative  (ENORI)

The Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative (ENORI) is a collaboration comprising of oystermen, environmental conservation groups, academia and government regulators, working hard to bring native oysters back to Essex in a big way! Their shared vision is for the Essex estuaries to have self-sustaining populations of native oysters that provide ecosystem services, sustainable fisheries and increased biodiversity whilst recognising their cultural importance. They are working within the Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Marine Conservation Zone, the only Marine Conservation Zone in the UK that is designated to protect native oyster beds!



The Native Oyster Network – UK & Ireland

The Native Oyster Network is a community of academics, conservationists, oystermen and NGO’s who are working to restore self-sustaining populations of native oysters in the UK and Ireland.  
The Network aims for an ecologically coherent and collaborative approach to native oyster restoration, by promoting effective communication between native oyster restoration projects. We are also working to increase the awareness of the social and political worth of native oysters.

a group of people on a boat looking out to sea



Net-Works™  is a collaboration between ZSL and global carpet tile manufacturer Interface, Inc.  that redesigns global supply chains to create sustainable and scalable solutions that reduce marine plastic, increase fish stocks and improve the lives of marginalised coastal communities living in biodiversity hotspots of developing countries. Net-Works connects these communities to global brands via a fair and inclusive business model that delivers ‘less plastic, more fish’.

ZSL staff weighting fishing nets in a village hut



The #OneLess project, led by ZSL and partners, has been leading the charge against ocean plastic pollution since 2016. #OneLess is transforming the capital into a place where single-use bottled water is a thing of the past and where plastic waste is drastically reduced for the sake of the ocean. #OneLess is working with major London attractions and businesses, as well as the Mayor of London, to find and implement solutions to eradicate plastic bottled water and enable a refill culture across our city.

Womans picking up plastic bottles


Our Sea Our Life

The Our Sea Our Life project, coordinated by ZSL (in collaboration with Associacao do Meio Ambiente, CORDIO East Africa, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, UniLurio and Universidade de Aveiro), works with vulnerable coastal communities in northern Mozambique, where unsustainable fishing practices and growing populations are threatening the incredible marine biodiversity in the area.

Three men in the water with ropes

This programme is supported by the Darwin Initiative, EU and Fondation Ensemble.


Rehabilitating Mangroves in the Philippines

ZSL started its mangrove rehabilitation work in 2007 through the Community-based Mangrove Rehabilitation Project (CMRP), with the aim of increasing coastal protection, food resources and diversifying livelihood options. This was achieved through empowering local communities to protect remaining mangrove forests and developing science-based methods for communities to rehabilitate lost forest sites.

three people kneeling in magroves

ZSL is taking a new approach by integrating mangroves into marine protected areas (MPAs). By adopting a strategy of combining mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs the average size of these MPAs has increased to around 400 hectares. So far ZSL have successfully integrated mangroves into six MPA sites in Panay and Bohol.

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