Press Release - March 1 2023

Press Release - March 1 2023


Shark Conservation Fund Announces Biodiversity Initiative Government Partnerships at Our Ocean Panama

~ 10-year, $100 million Shark Biodiversity Initiative garners country endorsements to ensure sharks are managed effectively inside new or existing Marine Protected Areas ~

Panama City, PANAMA (March 3, 2023)—The Shark Conservation Fund (SCF) announced today at the 8thOur Ocean Conference the first government partnerships of the Shark Biodiversity Initiative (SBI), a ten-year, $100 million global initiative to protect the biodiversity of our oceans through shark conservation.

This first-of-its-kind global effort will dedicate the financial, strategic, and human resources needed to protect sharks and their habitats, which are critical for a healthy ocean.

Host country Panama and Ecuador gave their endorsements to SBI and its work in the Eastern Tropical Pacific following an SCF side event at Our Ocean to discuss the global need to prioritize shark management within MPAs, the broad ecosystem benefits that shark protection provides, and the underlying scientific rationale behind the Initiative.

“The government of Panama is thrilled to be partnering with and supporting the Shark Conservation Fund in this exciting new initiative,” said Panamanian Minister of Environment Milciades Concepción. “Sharks are oceanic icons, which is why Panama led the proposal during CITES Cop19 to ensure the majority of the fin trade was sustainably managed. Ensuring they receive protection as we develop MPAs should also be a top global priority.”

Ecuadorian Minister of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition Gustavo Manrique added, “As we work to ensure that global demand does not drive shark species to extinction, efforts to protect the most biologically important areas for sharks and rays are a critical next step. Ecuador is taking strong actions at home to manage sharks and rays, and MPA management is another tool that cannot be overlooked.”

SCF helps restore and protect the ocean by halting the overexploitation of sharks and rays and preventing extinctions through strategic grantmaking. SCF members include the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Bloomberg Ocean Fund, The Moore Charitable Foundation, Oceans 5, Re:wild, Save Our Seas Foundation, and the Volgenau Foundation.

“The Shark Biodiversity Initiative is Shark Conservation Fund’s next bold venture in saving the world’s sharks and rays,” said SCF Executive Director Lee Crockett. “We are thrilled with the reception we’ve received in Panama and look forward to connecting more governments and funders with this critical work.”

SBI aims to improve and enhance the conservation impact of the global 30x30 initiative by strengthening and expanding the number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) designed to benefit sharks and rays. SCF will leverage public-private partnerships to protect at least 100 important shark areas across the globe, by specifically protecting sharks from key threats, reducing mortality, and protecting critical habitats.

Through an overlapping, phased-in approach, SCF and its philanthropic partners will provide the financial resources and collaborate with its network of scientists, policy champions, local partners, and political and community leaders to advance this ambitious project over the next decade.

SBI activities and support are centered around these three tenets:

1.  Expand Habitat Protections: Nearly every marine ecosystem is inhabited by sharks. Protecting sharks will lead to healthier habitats such as coral reefs and mangroves and also maintain ecosystem integrity for a wide variety of other marine habitats, mitigating the worst effects of climate change.

2.  Build Local Support for Long-term Protections: Many local communities rely on sharks and their support is critical to the success of MPAs. Working closely with local leaders and stakeholders will protect marine ecosystems over the long-term.

3.  Protect More Species: Sharks are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation because they grow slow, mature late, and produce few offspring. More stringent fishery management measures are needed to protect them. Spatial measures such as MPAs are needed in partnership with traditional fisheries management measures given this vulnerability. Shark protection measures will have positive ecological benefits on less vulnerable species within the ecosystem.

In addition to the Eastern Tropical Pacific, SBI currently has 6 pilot projects underway in Malaysia, Mozambique, Uruguay, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, and Namibia on its eventual way to 13 regional initiatives around the world.

Contact: Lee Crockett, [email protected], or +1 (917) 624-1615

About Shark Conservation Fund

The Shark Conservation Fund (SCF) is a collaboration of philanthropists dedicated to solving the global shark and ray crisis. Its goal is to halt the overexploitation of the world’s sharks and rays, prevent extinctions, reverse population declines, and restore imperiled species through strategic and catalytic grantmaking. SCF, originally called the Global Partnership for Sharks and Rays, was founded in 2016 by Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Oceans 5, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and the Helmsley Charitable Trust. Other supporters past and present include Prince Hussain Aga Khan/Focused on Nature, The Moore Charitable Foundation, Band Foundation, Flora Foundation, Paul Tudor Jones, Rapper & Comedian Lil Dicky, Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, Roger Sant & Doris Matsui, Overbrook Foundation, David & Lucile Packard Foundation, National Philanthropic Trust, Schmidt Family Foundation, and Donald J. Slavik Foundation.