An initiative led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) is supporting fishers, observers and inspectors in the identification of sharks and rays. The 'Sharks and Rays Initiative' also seeks to: raise awareness for the protection of island biodiversity; enable compliance with new international measures; and address global pressures on shark and ray conservation.
Under the initiative, the 'On Board Guide for the Identification of Pelagic Sharks and Rays (Western Indian Ocean)' was developed to help fishery workers identify the sharks and rays they encounter at sea. To date, two training workshops have been held, one in Mauritius, from 28-30 October 2014, and the other in Seychelles, from 4-6 November 2014, to build capacity for using the guide and recording identifications. Similar workshops are planned for Madagascar and the Comoros in 2015.
These initiatives show progress toward an earlier, May 2014 press release, in which FAO indicated its support for the implementation of sustainable fisheries management practices through a full-scale programme on Deep-sea Fisheries that aims, inter alia, to improve data reporting through the development of identification guides and training programmes.
FAO notes that 18 of the world's 26 main shark-fishing nations have a national plan of action (NPOA) on sharks and five more are under development.