Shark and ray populations worldwide are declining, bringing potential socioeconomic and
ecological impacts. Improvements in the conservation and management of shark and ray
populations are hindered by their distribution. Of the 15 global hotspots defined for high levels
of elasmobranch species richness, functional diversity, endemicity and threats, 14 overlap the
coastal waters of developing nations. These nations are most at risk from food insecurity,
poverty and other impacts associated with biodiversity loss, yet also have limited institutional
capacity and resources to coordinate fisheries and conservation management. There is an
urgent need for practical, low-cost tools and approaches for elasmobranch monitoring and
management that meet the needs of developing nations.

This research focuses on the territorial seas of Indonesia, a nation with the greatest
elasmobranch species diversity, the greatest threat density, and where shark and ray fisheries
provide important socio-economic value to artisanal fishers and coastal communities.
Indonesian is recognised as a global priority hotspot for shark and ray conservation
interventions. The taxonomic focus of this project is the Mobulidae, an Elasmobranch family
containing the Manta spp. and Mobula spp., and which is recognised as a priority for global
conservation efforts.
This project will investigate the application of low-cost technologies and methods for
elasmobranch fisheries and conservation management that are suitable for deployment by
developing nations, and which promote collaborative engagement in conservation and
management across sectors. Specific aims of the project include:

  • Evaluating the role of technology in monitoring and managing manta and marine
  • megafauna populations;
  • Evaluating the role of non-specialist “citizen scientists” in monitoring and managing
  • manta and marine megafauna populations;
  • Evaluating the accuracy and precision of manta and marine megafauna population data
  • obtained from “citizen scientists”, and implications for the design of long-term
  • monitoring;
  • Evaluating rapid, low-cost, non-invasive approaches for determining manta population
  • status that meet the needs of developing nations;
  • Evaluating the accuracy, precision and effectiveness of crowd-sourcing marine
  • megafauna species identification to citizen scientists; and
  • Evaluating the potential for light as a mobulid ray bycatch mitigation strategy in smallscale
  • fisheries.

Advisors:  Assoc Prof Ron Johnstone, Antony Lewis

Project members


PhD candidate