international & national policy reform, regional conservation, wildlife conservation, fisheries management, community-driven conservation, marine protected areas
Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and Oceans 5
Catalyzing collaboration amongst leading philanthropies to solve the global shark and ray crisis and safeguard the health and vitality of the oceans and the communities that depend on them.
Photo Credits: Cristina Mormorunni & Guy Stevens/Manta Trust
In recent years, international and national markets for shark fin, liver oil, cartilage, leather, meat, and ray gill plates have surged, while conservation has failed to keep pace.
Nearly a quarter of all shark species are threatened with extinction and some species, like the once abundant oceanic whitetip shark, have seen populations decline by 98 percent in some areas in just 30 years. Many ray populations have experienced similar declines.
Sharks and rays are the most threatened vertebrates on the planet. Yet, the current scale of conservation efforts and investments do not match the level of urgency. The Global Partnership for Sharks & Rays (GPSR) is a direct response to this looming ecological crisis and was founded by five visionary philanthropic organizations, who forged a shared commitment to fund the most effective conservation projects on the planet.
The GPSR was launched in the Fall of 2016 at the Our Ocean Conference. Founding Partners include: The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, The Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and Oceans 5. The MacArthur Foundation, Disney Conservation Fund, and ADM Capital Foundation are core members of the larger GPSR Network and played an integral in getting this critical conservation initiative off the ground.
The GPRS’s overarching goal is to catalyze the emergence of a strategic, coordinated, and collaborative global investment in shark and ray conservation at scales able to:
- Halt the global overexploitation of sharks and rays;
- Prevent species extinction;
- Restore shark and ray populations worldwide; and,
- Ensure their conservation and sustainable management.
To successfully meet this challenge, the GPSR has set ambitious goals for directing significant new conservation dollars to global shark and ray conservation over the next ten years.
The Approach: Strategies & Priorities
- Full protection for the most endangered sharks and rays.
- Reduction in bycatch in non-target fisheries.
- Reduction in catch in targeted, unsustainable shark and ray fisheries.
- Marine Protected Areas declared to protect shark and ray aggregations and other identified critical habitats.
- Reduction in the demand in key global markets for shark and ray products.
- Regulated and traceable global trade in shark and ray products.
These grantmaking strategies and priorities are informed by the need to remove five critical barriers to global shark and ray conservation.
First, there is a lack of basic scientific information about the viability of many of the world’s sharks and rays. In fact, nearly half of the world’s shark and ray species are considered “Data Deficient” by the IUCN and the vast majority of shark and ray fisheries are characterized as data-limited.
Second, while awareness of shark conservation is greater than ever before, this awareness has not yet translated into coordinated conservation action or global demands for sustainability. As a result, the political will at the scale needed to drive requisite systemic changes in policy and regulations is lacking.
Third, the vast majority of shark and ray fisheries are underreported and unregulated, with a recent study demonstrating that over 70% of the world’s shark and ray landings occur in countries not yet committed to even the most basic bans on shark finning.
Fourth, largely due to the lack of a regulatory regime, there are major gaps in the capacity of management authorities, communities, and other conservation constituencies to support the implementation and enforcement of conservation and management measures for sharks and rays.
Finally, the lack of long-term well financed global commitments to the conservation of sharks and rays is a serious obstacle to significant, durable outcomes. Targeted campaigns have demonstrated the potential for short-term policy victories (in the US, Europe, and at CITES), but the conservation movement for sharks and rays does not even vaguely match the scale of the problem.
- Directing and leveraging investment and resources to the most innovative and impactful global shark and ray conservation projects that:
- Build the Scientific Case for Conservation
- Activate, Expand & Sustain Public Demand for Increased Protection
- Secure Transformative Change through Effective Laws, Policies & Regulations
- Support Implementation, Compliance, Enforcement & Incentives for Conservation
- Integrating investment and implementation of global shark and ray conservation strategies.
- Increasing awareness and elevating political and public engagement in global shark and ray conservation through strategic communications.
- Providing global leadership able to influence decision-makers, catalyze influencers, and inform and coordinate shark and ray conservation funders.
Finally, these Interventions are directed to three priority geographies, based on analysis of ecological importance, threat, political viability, and catalytic potential (See figures below):
- Coastal fishing nations with high direct and incidental take, significant domestic demand and high biodiversity.
- Pelagic seas with the highest shark and ray incidental mortality.
- Countries that drive global demand: high catch, high trade and large domestic markets for fins, and meat.
For more information about the GPSR, please visit: