The greatest threat to marine megafauna – such as sharks, rays and turtles – is overfishing. These species are caught as target species and bycatch throughout global fisheries, and their slow life history traits make them vulnerable to overexploitation. As a result, marine megafauna are some of the most threatened taxa in the world.
The Mitigation and Conservation Hierarchy can be used to guide diverse actions across stakeholder groups towards a united goal for reducing and reversing the impact of fisheries on marine megafauna. For example, this diagram illustrates some cross-cutting actions that could be taken across different stakeholder groups towards the goal of healthy populations of marine megafauna by 2030:
Case studies for application of the Conservation Hierarchy principles to conservation of marine megafauna in fisheries are available for:
- Turtle conservation in tuna fisheries
- Balancing trade-offs between shark conservation and fisheries objectives
This work, to apply the terrestrial mitigation hierarchy to marine megafauna by-catch, has been supported by a Pew Marine Fellowship for Prof. EJ Milner-Gulland.