New report on elasmobranchs in the Wider Caribbean shows large diversity, big threats and urgent need for more research and conservation action.


A new report produced by the NEV on the elasmobranchs of the Eastern and Southern part of the Wider Caribbean shows the region is home to a wide range of elasmobranch species, from an abundance of rays living in the murky waters along the coast of the Guyana’s to tiger sharks cruising the Caribbean reefs as well as poorly studied deep water species living in deep trenches close to Jamaica. The Caribbean also harbours critical habitats for endangered species such as the Oceanic whitetip shark that uses the waters around Haiti as a nursery area and the small tooth sawfish that is still observed in the waters of French Guyana and Surinam.

The report as produced for the CAribbean marine Megafauna and anthropogenic ACivities CAMAC project, lef by the SPAW Regional Activities Center. Aim of CAMAC is to  improve knowledge of  marine megafauna in the Wider Caribbean and to strengthen regional collaboration on their study. The overarching objective is to provide Caribbean governing bodies and environmental stakeholders with recommendations and tools to reduce the negative impacts of interactions between marine megafauna and human activities. As paret of this effort the NEV was asked to produce bibliographical review of knowledge about sharks and rays in the Wider Caribbean Region as well as a research and conservation action plan that sets out which are the areas that should have the highest priorities for further study.

We augmented the bibliographical review with in depth interviews with regional experts as there was only limited published data available on our specific focus area. This allowed us to give a detailed overview that covered all countries is in the eastern and southern Caribbean region (from Jamaica to French Guyana) but it also made clear that there are large data gaps that need to be addressed. The information from the bibliographical review was then used in 3 expert workshops were in which we explored what priorities should be set to address the lack of data on Caribbean elasmobranchs. Over 50 scientists, conservations and government officials collaborated in the workshop which produced a list of 23 possible research actions. For each action a detailed fact sheet was produced, setting out all the key elements, such as research targets,  species involved, potential partners, and a draft budget. Seven actions were given the highest priority by the consulted experts they range from the need for gathering fisheries data, to better platforms for data sharing and the need for collaboration and skill sharing throughout the region. The results from the report will now be used in the 2nd phase of the CAMAC project that his set to commence in 2025.

This project was led by Irene Kingma from the NEV in close collaboration with Paddy Walker and Caribbean conservation expert Tadzio Bervoets.

Download CAMAC Elasmobranch Action Plan part 1: Review of Elasmobranch Diversity, Research and Management in the Wider Caribbean Region with a focus on the CAMAC scope area

Download CAMAC Elasmobranch Action Plan part 2: Priority actions for future Shark and Ray research and management