Enabling Support of Sharks in the Miskito Cays of Honduras

6 Mar 2020 Miskito Cays, Honduras, Central and Latin America

Gabriela Ochoa

Our project's goal is to increase knowledge on sharks in Honduras specifically the Miskito Cays that will help mitigate the effects of illegal and undocumented fishing on threatened species. During the duration of the project we will focus on building support and understanding for sharks in one of Central America’s most remote and indigenous regions while generating key information to improve shark management in Honduras. We will use fisheries independent methods (Baited Remote Underwater Video and Longlines) to establish a long-term monitoring for sharks. The other components of the project include an education campaign focusing on perception changes and working alongside government and Miskito territorial council to improve the management of sharks in the Moskitia.

In 2011 Honduras was declared a Shark Sanctuary by prohibiting all shark fishing. This legislation was partially repealed in 2016, to allow captures and commercialization of sharks in the Miskito Region. As a result, an artisanal fishery has emerged particularly in the Miskito Cays, that targets endangered hammerheads and other large bodied sharks to satisfy the demand for dry fish during Lent. This is an unregulated fishery, with no information on species captured, fishing effort or trade.

Our project aims to generate key information and knowledge on sharks that will improve management of this species in Honduras. As this information is difficult to acquire from fishers, we will use fisheries independent methods such as scientific longlines and baited remote underwater video. We will also implement an education campaign focused on creating understanding and fostering behavioural change for sharks. As a result, we will establish a fisheries independent baseline by which to measure changes in the shark populations and also promote understanding of these misunderstood species in the communities in the Moskitia. These results will contribute to increase knowledge on sharks in Honduras and mitigate the effect of illegal fishing on threatened species such as Great Hammerheads.