Leveraging satellite technology to create true shark sanctuaries


Shark sanctuaries are an ambitious attempt to protect huge areas of ocean space to curtail overfishing of sharks. If shark sanctuaries are to succeed, effective surveillance and enforcement is urgently needed. We use a case study with a high level of illegal shark fishing within a shark sanctuary to help motivate three actionable opportunities to create truly effective shark sanctuaries by leveraging satellite technology: (1) require vessel tracking systems; (2) partner with international research organizations; and (3) ban vessels previously associated with illegal fishing from shark sanctuaries. Sustaining the level of fishing mortality observed in our case study would lead even a healthy shark population to collapse to <10% of its unfished state in fewer than five years. We outline implementations pathways and provide a roadmap to pair new and emerging satellite technologies with existing international agreements to offer new hope for shark conservation successes globally.

In Conservation Letters