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Photo by GBRMPA

Our Mission


To document, promote, and enhance the social, cultural, economic, ecological and conservation values of sharks and rays for Indo-Pacific communities, both now and for future generations. 

Shark Search-IndoPacific aims to bring people and communities together to work towards the sustainable use of marine resources. Sharks and rays are vital to the Indo-Pacific. They have irreplaceable social, cultural, and economic values, and they help to maintain health and balance in our marine ecosystems. The problem is that many sharks and rays are threatened by overfishing and habitat loss. At the same time, we have very little information about sharks and rays in the Indo-Pacific, and our species lists are incomplete. This lack of information makes it difficult to manage and conserve these species, especially in coastal fisheries which are undervalued and poorly understood.

Shark Search Indo-Pacific began with a conversation with Dr Reuben Sulu at the 2012 International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns. Since that initial discussion over a cup of coffee, Shark Search has taken shape over many coffees and conversations with practitioners in the Pacific about tackling these problems. In the short-term (Stage I), the idea is that Shark Search will bring together shark scientists, marine resource managers and Citizen Scientists - diving photographers from across the Indo-Pacific - to create robust Checklists and Status Overviews for sharks and rays in each country and territory in the Indo-Pacific. The scientific team includes leading social and natural scientists and specialists from Australian Universities and Research Institutes, and our photographic partners include award-winning photographers such as Thomas Vignaud. But all divers and photographers have a role to play in this effort.

Shark Search Indo-Pacific began over a cup of coffee at a conference in 2012, where we met Dr Reuben Sulu, who shared with us some of the complex challenges facing sharks and rays, and fisheries management in the Pacific. 

A short term goal for a long term vision

Change takes time and sustained effort. This short term process of building a Checklist and Status Overview is the start of a long-term vision to build national and regional "Communities of Practice" comprised of natural and social scientists, fisheries and marine resource managers, NGOs, community and industry leaders, and local champions. Our vision is that these Communities of Practice will form the multi-partner, inter-disciplinary teams needed to develop (Stage II) and implement (Stage III) innovative, effective and transformative projects tailored to the needs of each country and territory.

Where effective shark and ray management and conservation projects are already occurring, Shark Search will recognise and support these local initiatives, and can provide a means to facilitate knowledge exchange from local programs into Pacific-wide or global arenas. 

Shark Search aims to build robust and validated checklists and status overviews of the shark and ray biodiversity for each country and territory in the Indo-Pacific, completing the Pacific by 2024. This work will help individual countries and territories develop and update their National Plans of Action for conserving sharks and rays. 

In the Pacific, our intent is that Shark Search will help governments and communities work towards the outcomes of the Noumea Strategy "A New Song for Coastal Fisheries" by building social capital and networks, and by providing new information about sharks and rays, their values, and their roles in coastal fisheries. On-ground action may also help countries and communities work towards the goals of the Global Shark & Ray Initiative 2015-2025 Strategy and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 14.2,14.4, 14.7 and 14a.

More generally, Shark Search will also provide managing agencies with reference information needed to address reporting obligations to international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (the Bonn Convention),  the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

We also hope that this site and these databases will serve as useful resources for scientists, managers and conservation workers interested in sharks and rays. 

But for now, to sustainably manage and conserve our marine ecosystems, fisheries, livelihoods, and natural heritage, we first need to know what's there. That's where Shark Search is starting. And that's how you can help.

Shark Search Indo-Pacific has a long-term vision. It starts by working with in-country partners to build a shark and ray checklist and status overview for each country. This forms the starting point for continued engagement and planning with in-country partners about useful long-term projects that will ensure that sharks and rays - and their myriad values - are protected for future generations

The Shark Search Indo-Pacific team

Project team
Dr Andrew Chin
Programme Director

Andrew Chin has been working in coral reef management and research since the 1990s, in both government agencies and in academic institutions. He is currently based at James Cook University, Australia, where he works in fisheries research, 
specializing in sharks and rays
. He has a keen interest in Pacific coastal fisheries, and in working towards sustainable use of marine resources that provides for food security and livelihoods. Andrew is the founder and Programme Director of Shark Search Indo-Pacific and drives efforts to compile the species checklists and build communities of practice within each country.

Karin Gerhardt
Social Scientist

Karin Gerhardt provides the project with expertise in social science, community planning and engagement, evaluation, and knowledge management. She has a Masters in knowledge management, with many years experience with the Australian Government and working with Indigenous Communities to manage the Great Barrier Reef. She specialises in community driven projects such as collaborating with Traditional Owners to link Indigenous Information to marine park management. This is the focus of her PhD at James Cook University where she is exploring cultural dimensions and Indigenous knowledge about sharks and rays. Karin will run the human dimensions of SSIP projects including Human Centred Design approaches. 

Dr William White
Taxonomic Specialist

William White is a senior curator of the Australian Fish Collection at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. He has described many new shark and ray species, and has authored several guide books on the shark and ray diversity. Will has also led projects on sustainable shark fisheries and biodiversity discovery in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Will provides taxonomic expertise and ensures the accuracy and reliability of the species checklists hosted by Shark Search Indo-Pacific.   

Dr Peter Kyne
Conservation Assessment

Peter Kyne is a global expert in assessing the extinction risk of sharks and rays. His research focuses on shark life history and ecology to guide management and conservation, and assess population status and extinction risk. He is a key member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Shark Specialist Group (SSG), and is the Regional Vice-Chair (Australia and Oceania) and Red List Authority Co-ordinator. His work with the SSG centres on undertaking global and regional assessments of extinction risk for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Peter's current research focuses on the management and recovery of threatened species in northern Australia, in particular sawfishes and river sharks. 

The Shark Search team also works with in-country partners during each checklist project, and also works with Programme Partners who have particular skills, expertise or capacity that help Shark Search Indo-Pacific establish and implement projects throughout the region.

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