85 Important Shark and Ray Areas, protected places for rare and endangered species, have been officially delineated in the Mediterranean and Black Sea after a five-day conference held in Greece.
Thanks to participants at a recent five-day workshop in Thessaloniki, Greece, which was organised by the IUCN Species Survival Commission Shark Specialist Group and hosted by iSea, 85 Important Shark and Ray Areas (ISRA) have been mapped in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions.
WHAT IS AN ISRA
ISRAs are described as discrete habitats used by one or more species that are clearly marked and have the potential to be managed for conservation efforts.
Whilst they are not officially protected areas, the delineation of these areas will allow policymakers to better consider the habitats of sharks, rays, and chimaeras when developing and implementing management measures.
The ISRA project uses the best available science to “identify regions across global waters most critical for the long-term survival of sharks, rays, and chimaeras”. These include places where the animals mate, reproduce, feed, rest or gather, as well as marking out major stopover points during migration.
Over 180 experts gathered both online and in person for the working conference, which compiled swathes of current data to configure the new zones.
“We are very happy to host the ISRA workshop in Thessaloniki,” said Ioannis Giovos, Director of iSea. “The Mediterranean Sea is a hotspot of shark and ray extinction risk and the ISRA process will help us identify priorities for conservation and area-based management as well as understand gaps in knowledge.”
This workshop is the second of 13 planned regional events, which have been organised around the world. Supported by the Shark Conservation Fund, the next event will take place at the Western Indian Ocean workshop in September 2023.
Final results from this most recent workshop are to be announced in August, after a rigorous peer review process.
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Photo credit: Egidio Trainito