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Sharks & Rays: Vulnerable Species Protection

Reverse population declines for commonly encountered species of sharks by 2030.



The Threat & Our Role

As top predators, sharks help to manage healthy ocean ecosystems, yet they remain some of the most threatened but under-protected species in our ocean with around 300 species facing an increased threat of extinction.

Shark and ray tourism is an essential component of many countries’ economies, presenting the dive community with a vital opportunity to drive and influence conservation. With the main threats coming from overfishing and habitat loss, divers can spearhead global efforts to combat shark and ray declines through citizen science and advocacy.



What We've Done

AWARE has helped secure international trade restrictions on 38 species and has garnered pledges to end overfishing for 28 species. 

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Responsible Shark & Ray Tourism

In partnership with the Manta Trust and WWF, AWARE developed the world’s first comprehensive guide on responsible shark and ray tourism practices which helps minimize impacts of tourism on shark and ray populations.

Sustainable Fishing

Connecting the diving community with decision-makers to advocate against overfishing is critical for healthy shark and ray populations. An active member of the Shark League Coalition, AWARE helped secure conservation commitments from 15 countries to protect species in the Mediterranean and Atlantic. 

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Education & Training

With an estimated 600,000 shark watchers generating $314 million annually, the AWARE Shark Conservation Course provides both divers and non-divers with information, tools and skills to become actively engaged in conservation efforts around the world.



Our Strategy

Reverse population declines for commonly encountered species of sharks by 2030.

Key Actions  (1) Deploy 10 in-country campaigns engaging PADI Torchbearers to promote shark and ray conservation by 2023  (2) Launch a global shark census to collect information on the populations of sharks commonly encountered by divers

Local Action
2021 In-Country Campaign

Implement shark and ray campaigns in 10 countries promoting conservation measures at the local and national level.

Global Impact
2021 Global Advocacy

Through our collaboration with the Shark League Coalition, we will end overfishing for endangered mako sharks in the Atlantic by 2023.



Tools & Resources

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Community Story
Brazil & South Africa Mako Campaign

“Mako sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing, especially in the North Atlantic, where we have seen populations decline severely. It is currently estimated that the shark population will take 50 years to fully recover if fishing bans were implemented today." says Ian Campbell, Associate Director, Policy and Campaigns of PADI AWARE Foundation. "By working directly with PADI Members in Brazil and South Africa to raise awareness of the issue with the diving community, we aim to encourage governmental support of mako shark protections in the Atlantic.”