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SmartFish “Sharks and Rays Initiative” in Seychelles and Mauritius

Mauritius, 11 November 2014 – Fishers, observers and inspectors will have an easier job of identifying pelagic sharks thanks to the Sharks and Rays Initiative of the SmartFish Programme. 

The Sharks and Rays Initiative has been conceived in the general context, for raising awareness about preserving the island’s biodiversity and answer the need of adaptation facing the establishment of new international measures (CITES, IOTC requirements) and global pressure on sharks and rays conservation.  The importance of obtaining information relating to species caught or impacted by fisheries, either as target, bycatch or incidental catch, is more and more being highlighted in several international fora and instruments. 

In this framework, SmartFish (under the Result 1 - Fisheries management) designed a guide to improve reporting on catches and make Indian Ocean pelagic fisheries more sustainable. 

This initiative is also a direct follow-up of a recommendation made from the South Western Indian Ocean (SWIO) Fisheries Director’s meeting held in La Réunion in June 2012 that had been supported by the SmartFish project. During this meeting many countries, Mauritius in particular, expressed the wish for FAO to produce a professional on board guide to improve the identification of pelagic sharks and rays in the Western Indian Ocean.  

The two components of the initiative 

The first component is a professional “Onboard guide for the identification of Pelagic Sharks and Rays” in the Western Indian Ocean providing a handy tool for a wide range of users from both the public and private sectors. This field guide is intended to help fishery workers collecting catch data in the field in the identification of the sharks and rays they are likely to encounter.

The second part of the initiative is to facilitate access and use of this guide. In this regard, a training workshop, led by a worldwide shark expert from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, has been organized to train professionals on how to use the guide and what to look for when trying to identify pelagic sharks and rays. 

The workshops took place in Mauritius from Tuesday 28 till Thursday 30 October 2014 in collaboration with the Albion Fisheries Research Centre and in Seychelles from Tuesday 4 to Thursday 6 November 2014 in collaboration with the Seychelles Fishing Authority. 

At the end of this course, participants were expected to be able to:

- Use the identification keys to identify step by step pelagic sharks and rays

- Collect samples and biological data’s

- Be aware of the CITES and IOTC measures

A similar workshop will be organized for Madagascar and Comoros in 2015.

FAO and sharks

FAO has long been working to improve the management and conservation of sharks. An International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks adopted in 1999 stipulates that shark-fishing countries should produce national programmes for the conservation and management of sharks.

So far 18 of the world’s 26 top shark-fishing nations have a national plan on sharks and five more are in the process of developing one.

Both countries are currently working on their NPOA Sharks, Seychelles is reviewing its and Mauritius is in the process to develop one.

Contact : Florence Wallemacq, FAO Outreach Consultant, 

 Related links


Albion Fisheries Research Centre

Deep Sea Cartilaginous Fishes of the Indian Ocean Vol. 1 and 2

Identification Guide to the Deep-Sea Cartilaginous Fishes of the Indian Ocean

(FAO Fish Finder)

Shark and Ray Identification in Indian Ocean Pelagic Fisheries - IOTC

Field guide to the identification of Mobulid Rays (Indo West Pacific)

Tree of Life Project

Guide des requins, des raies et des chimères des pêches françaises

Identifying Shark Fins - PEW Foundation 

Good Practices to reduce the mortality of sharks and rays caught incidentally by the tropical tuna purse seiners - (Orthongel/OCUP Programme)

Mangroves for the Future

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Points Focaux

Burundi       Comoros
Djibouti       DR Congo
Ethiopia       Eritrea
Kenya       Madagascar
Malawi       Rwanda
Seychelles       Mauritius
Somalia       Swaziland
Sudan       South Sudan
Tanzania       Zanzibar
Uganda       Zambia


Commission de l'Océan Indien
Programme SmartFish
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Rue de l’Institut

Tel : (+230)4026100
Fax : (+230)4656798
Email : smartfish(at)