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Projeto Cação Works to Protect Brazil's Sharks

Although there have been several notable achievements in shark protection, such as United States Shark Conservation Act of 2000, the Hawaii, USA Shark Finning Prohibition Act and an Australian shark finning ban, few countries have actual shark management plans in place. One major reason for this is lack of concrete data and one group in Brazil sought to alleviate this problem in their area through Projeto Cação.

While the white shark was listed as an endangered species in the waters off of the state of São Paulo in 1998, studies on Brazil’s coastal sharks have since been few and far between. In part through Project AWARE grant funding, Projeto Cação recently undertook a research program focused on collecting biological and fishery data as well as assessing any species susceptible to overfishing.

Thus far, the project has identified several species exploited or caught as bycatch without any regulatory measures in the Southeast of Brazil. This is especially important as the area acts as nursery ground for at least five shark species, four of which are listed in the IUCN Red List 2004: Brazilian sharpnose shark (Rhizoprionodon lalandii), scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini), blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) and spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna).

Project members hope the data collected will be used for direct shark nursery conservation by providing information critical to the creation of new marine protected areas. Once completed, the group will submit a complete report to the Brazilian Environment Agency (IBAMA), the Fishery Institute of São Paulo State and fishing communities involved in the project.

By: Project AWARE