An investigation into sharks and rays landed at Singapore ports

An investigation into sharks and rays landed at Singapore ports

Singapore

Shark species

Silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), Black-tip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus), Grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos)

The IUCN Status

LC Least Concern
NT Near Threatened
VU
EN
CR
EW
EX Extinct

Tawny nurse sharks

(Nebrius ferrugineus)

The IUCN Status

LC Least Concern
NT
VU Vulnerable
EN
CR
EW
EX Extinct

The challenge

An unnoticed industry supplying sharks and rays 
According to the IUCN, sharks and rays are at a “substantially higher risk than most other groups of animals and have the lowest percentage of species considered safe – with only 23% categorized as Least Concern”. And yet, the depletion of sharks and rays is still not widely recognised, making it difficult to advocate for the conservation of these species. While Singapore is a member of CITES and does not trade sharks protected by the convention, there are no policies protecting sharks and rays not under international law, from being landed at our ports. As a result, the depletion of these species may be going unnoticed in Singapore. 

The goal

Better monitoring Singapore’s ports 
'
WRSCF supports Naomi Clark Shen from The Dorsal Effect to conduct this study. This project aims to uncover the extent at which sharks and rays are being caught and/or landed in Singapore – something never previously investigated. Fisheries catch from Singapore and the wider region (Indonesia and Malaysia) is landed at two ports: Jurong Fishery Port and Senoko Fishery Port. The team will conduct surveys at these ports to document the overall number, species, sex, age class, and the location from where they were caught. The study will last 13 months, giving insight to temporal variations of shark and ray catch as well. Overall, this project will uncover shark and ray biodiversity in Singapore and the wider region, which is currently lacking. The data can also be used for outreach so that Singaporeans can be better informed and play a role in protecting our marine biodiversity, by being more aware of their own consumption habits and how they can switch to eating sustainably sourced seafood. 

Our role

A landmark effort to save sharks from the trade 
'
WRSCF fully supports this landmark project by enabling its key researchers to conduct field based research at Singapore’s ports, identify sharks and rays and gather data that will be of critical importance for local authorities to better monitor what is happening at our ports, and whether fisheries trading and landing in our ports are in conflict with our commitment as a CITES member to not deplete or contribute to the trade in sharks. 

The impact

Aspiring for sustainable fishing and protecting our marine biodiversity 
The data acquired will increase understanding of the sustainability of shark and ray fishing in the region. For example, the age class of sharks and rays will show whether they are being caught before they reach maturity, a key indicator in fisheries sustainability, while documenting the species caught will show whether Threatened or Endangered sharks are being caught. We will also have a better understanding of shark and ray biodiversity in Singapore, and this data can be shared with local authorities like AVA and NParks, as well as research institutes, so that policy changes can be implemented to reduce the pressure on sharks and rays as our commitment to conservation of marine species.