A WWF-supported ecotourism project centred around swimming with whale sharks (while following ... / ©: WWF-Canon / 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 harvested 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. 



 / ©: Jurgen Freund/WWF Canon
© Jurgen Freund/WWF Canon

Where we will 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


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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