Sharks | WWF
A WWF-supported ecotourism project centred around swimming with whale sharks (while following ... 
	© WWF / Jürgen FREUND

Restoring the Balance

Sharks and Rays

Sharks: mythologized, feared, revered. These ancient predators capture our imaginations. But sharks are in trouble – victims of irresponsible and unsustainable fishing practices. The decline of sharks spells trouble for the ocean. Removing these key predators from the food chain has serious consequences for marine ecosystems, which in turn has repercussions for people everywhere.

Modern forms of sharks and rays first emerged over 150 million years ago. But the introduction of modern fishing techniques has spelled disaster for these ancient creatures. Overfishing has caused massive decline in shark numbers – a huge jolt to ocean ecosystems in little over 50 years. The most serious declines have been in the Coral Triangle and Mediterranean.

In response to threats facing sharks and rays, WWF and TRAFFIC have created Sharks: Restoring the Balance an initiative to improve management of shark fisheries, reduce demand and move international trade in sharks and rays toward sustainability. We aim to ensure both sharks and rays are fished sustainably, yielding practical benefits for people without compromising marine ecosystems. Where populations have dropped too low to be sustainably fished, complete protection may be the only answer.

A number of offices in WWF and TRAFFIC have existing projects to conserve sharks and rays. 

	© Brent Stirton / Getty Images
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images
	© Jurgen Freund/WWF
© Jurgen Freund/WWF

Where we work

Sharks Map
Regional Fisheries Management Organizations
  • IATTC – Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission
  • ICCAT – International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
  • IOTC – Indian Ocean Tuna Commission
  • CCSBT – Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna
  • WCPFC – Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
Traffic and WWF

Recent Updates

June 1, 2017
The Ocean Conference Voluntary Commitments - Global Shark Conservation Strategy 
WWF and Global Sharks & Rays Initiiative partners commit to delivery
Read the Commitment

Apr 26, 2017
TRAFFIC report hightlights the global importance of Singapore as the second largest shark fin trader
Better tracebility and transparency required
Read the Press Release

Apr 19, 2017
Status report and roadmap for protecting sharks and rays in the SW Indian Ocean produced
At least 211 species known from the region
Read the Press Release

Apr 5, 2017
Four new countries join the Pacific Shark Heritage Programme
Fisheries leaders further commit to improving shark management and conservation 
Read the Press Release

Mar 3, 2017
World's first best-practise guide to responsible shark and ray tourism released
Joint project between WWF, Project AWARE and Manta Trust
Read the Press Release

Feb 15, 2017
New bonnethead shark species found
Highlights needs to protect the Belize Barrier Reef 
Read the Press Release

Jan 17, 2017
Not in their kitchens: 18,000+ hotels now ban shark fin 
Five years on from the first hotel chain bans in Hong Kong 
Read the Press Release

Dec 12, 2016
WCPFC rejects proposal to protect Pacific sharks from finning 
EU proposal to ban the retention of manta and mobula rays also rejected  
Read the Press Release

Nov 21, 2016
WWF welcomes new recovery plan for Mediterranean swordfish, but concerns remain
Reference catch limit for blue shark stock in N. Atlantic set for first time 
Read the Press Release

Nov 8, 2016
Fins follow the money
TRAFFIC report highlights the need for better traceability and overview of shark trade
Read the Press Release

Oct 26, 2016
Fiji leads the way at CITES CoP17
First Pacific island nation to propose a shark or ray for CITES listing

Read the Press Release

Oct 5, 2016
Greater protection for devil rays, silky and thresher sharks
Trade needs to be from legal and sustainable fisheries

Oct 5, 2016
Conservationists welcome shark and ray listings at CITES CoP
13 species of devil rays, thresher and silky sharks added, now for implementation
Read the Joint Press Release

Oct 1, 2016
WWF-Pakistan lauds Sindh and Balochistan governments 
New legislation bans capture and retention of threatened sharks and rays
Read the Press Release

Aug 11, 2016
WWF Australia buys two Great Barrier Reef shark fishing licences
Gill net licence to be retired to reduce mortality of sharks, dugong, turtles and dolphins
Read the Press Release

July 19, 2016
Silky shark conservation proposal approved at ICCAT
Other shark and tuna related measures meet with mixed success
Read the Press Release

June 23, 2016
Pacific Islands stepping up shark and ray conservation
Palau joins the Pacific Shark Heritage Programme
Read the Press Release

May 3, 2016
Sixteen global shipping companies stop carrying shark fin
92% of shark fin enters Hong Kong by ship
Read the Press Release

April 7, 2016
First shark fin consumer research in Malaysia released
Concern is starting to lead to changed behaviour
Read the Press Release

Febuary 28, 2016
My Fin My Life lifts off in Sabah, Malaysia
State Government discourages eating of shark products 
Read the Press Release

Febuary 15, 2016
New global strategy to conserve sharks and rays 
Launched by the Global Shark & Ray Initiative
Read the Press Release

Febuary 2, 2016
Singaporeans would support government moves to protect sharks - findings of WWF consumer report 
Support for a government shark fin banqueting ban
Read the Press Release

January 26, 2016
WWF welcomes MSC's ban on shark fin shipments 
Second largest global shipping company
Read the Press Release

January 18, 2016
Penang State Government and WWF-Malaysia Launch My Fin My Life Campaign to Save Sharks 
Call for the Malaysian public to stop consuming shark fin soup
Read the Press Release

January 7, 2016
New TRAFFIC report throws light on supply chain traceability 
Designed to inform tracking of shark and ray products traded under CITES
Read the Press Release

December 10, 2015
Some progress but improved finning ban measures rejected 
Disapointment from the latest Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting 
Read the Press Release

September 28, 2015
Massive new Marine Protected Area to be created off New Zealand
Sharks amongst beneficiaries from a ban on fishing 
Read the Press Release

November 24, 2014
Survey of caterers in Hong Kong provides further evidence of declines in shark fin consumption
Chinese banquet providers most resistant to change
Read the Press Release

November 9, 2014
Convention on Migratory Species boosts protection for sharks and rays
21 new species of shark and ray listed under the Convention
Read the Press Release

November 6, 2014
Three whale sharks released alive in Pakistan
Fishers trained by WWF
Read the Press Release

November 6, 2014
Shark Reef National Marine Park designated in Fiji
Innovative new model for jointly managing MPAs
Read the Press Release

September 12, 2014
Historic day - a TRAFFIC perspective on new CITES listings
Trade in additional sharks and mantas now regulated
Read the Press Release

September 11, 2014
Historic CITES decision on sharks and manta rays comes into effect
18 months preparatory period over
Read the Press Release

September 3, 2014
Pacific Shark Heritage Programme launched
Aims to work with governments in the Pacific Region
Read the Press Release

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