Apex predators such as sharks have been one of the most impacted taxa, leading to severe distress in marine ecosystems, from effects of trophic downgrading.
Key barriers to effective conservation and management of shark populations include:
- Data deficiencies leading to a lack of population benchmarks in assessing baseline health, and impact of fisheries on species stability.
- Limited surveillance capacity in our oceans enabling illegal fisheries to disproportionately impact shark populations.
- Lack of capacity among vulnerable nations to benchmark and protect marine species populations in their EEZs from illegal fisheries.
My research involves using genome sequencing innovations on three platforms to create a “Genomic Seascape”, which will track diversity and stability of shark populations and illegal fisheries in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. My work is aimed at building capacity for a robust framework to benchmark elasmobranch populations and for tracking illegal fisheries in ~15 countries of the Indian Ocean ranging from South Africa on the west to Western Australia on the east and everything in between. My work thus encompasses some of the most data deficient elasmobranch taxa and poorly studied and unprotected regions as well as marine protected areas such as the Chagos archipelago which are all experiencing species declines from massive unregulated or illegal fishing pressure.
Tackling Illegal FishingShark Genomics Seascapes