19 Oct 2022
Developing Elasmobranch Fishery Assessments and Improving the Conservation Status of Threatened Elasmobranchs in the Northern Coastline of Cameroon
Together with fishermen, government and the future generations we aim to protect life in oceans for sharks and rays in the southern coastline of Cameroon.
Sharks and rays are increasingly recognized as a priority species group for conservation action since they are one of the most threatened species groups in the world, due to fishing pressure and knowledge gaps (Pacoureau 2021). Cameroon is a global priority for shark and ray conservation and management, as it’s both a hotspot of diversity and a hotspot of pressures. Implementing effective conservation for sharks and rays in Cameroon is challenging for a number of practical, epistemological and socioeconomic reasons. What is more, Cameroon is a large country, with a considerable coastline of 402 km of Atlantic shoreline (Sayer 1992), and limited resources for conservation and fisheries management. Efforts to address these issues in the northern coastline of Cameroon are showing success, but in the southern coastline, the lack of species-specific catch data limits the ability to implement national effective management.
In this context the present project aims to summarize information on the status of shark and ray species, sites and utilization along the coastline of Cameroon by expanding the research and conservation actions that have been taken by AMMCO since 2018, to the southern coastline of Cameroon. In order to highlight some of the ecological and socioeconomic complexities surrounding shark conservation and management, and to outline overarching strategic priorities and key approaches for improving the status of sharks and rays in Cameroon over the next five years.
To attain the project aims we will: promote the SIREN citizen science program to other fishers; conduct a questionnaire survey and threat assessment, participatory mapping of the elasmobranch distribution; survey fish landing sites and markets and initiate an on-board fishing boat observers monitoring; raise the national legal status of the threatened elasmobranchs species; hold meetings with government representatives to advocate for the legal protection of threatened elasmobranchs; improve the perception of the local population on the importance and conservation status of the threatened elasmobranch species of Cameroon and conduct environmental education in high schools.
This work is integrated into a 5-year strategic plan between AMMCO and the Manta trust to establish a conservation and research program for sharks and rays in Cameroon.