African News

Professionals trained on Protection of shark species

By Kemo Cham
A regional Workshop for technicians, investigators, fisheries agents, observers and scientists involved in the sub-regional Plan of Action
for the conservation and sustainable management of shark populations (PSRA-Sharks) recently took place in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
The training which was convened at the Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD), brought together thirty representatives from the Sub-Regional Commission on Fisheries (CSRP) member countries, including Mauritania, Senegal, the Gambia, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Lasting until December 11, 2009, the training offered participants the opportunity to renew and update their knowledge on information related to the shark populace in the sub region. The aim was to intensify actions geared towards the conservation and rational exploitation of this endangered species.
Dr. Mika Diop, coordinator of the program, explained that “the decline of shark populace is a dramatic reality with negative socio-economic implications for many fishermen in West Africa”. According to him, CRSP experts agree that negative fishing practices have greatly contributed to endangering the shark species.
“Fishermen have experienced operating deficits related to the decline in catch per unit and the rising cost of oil. As a result, they engage in deviant behaviour against marine protected areas. This involves them in risky incursions or using prohibited fishing methods, despite their practical knowledge of existing penalties. To remedy this situation, the Sub-Regional Commission on Fisheries (CRSP), after establishing in 2003 a sub-regional Plan of Action for the conservation and sustainable management of shark populations (PSRA-Sharks), is working to put all concerned players on track” he stated.
Dr Diop expressed hope that the sixth regional training workshop would enable participants the opportunity to familiarize themselves with techniques for identifying sharks and rays in West Africa and understand the biology of sharks and rays. The training also provided opportunity for participants to acquire analytical techniques and data management necessary for the protection of sharks and rays as well as fisheries management of these species and consequently to be able to determine their vulnerability level in West Africa.
The training was provided by three specialized international experts on rays and sharks from the United States and Portugal. They were assisted by teachers from the Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (IUPA ) of Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University.

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