Study on Operational Planning for Shark Biological Data Improvement / by Francisco Blaha

My friend and colleague Dr Shelley Clarke, is a well know an respected shark fisheries specialist that is working with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Pohnpei, FSM. The WCPFC is calling for Call for Proposals from Interested Parties and providing Terms of Reference for a Study on Operational Planning for Shark Biological Data Improvement. 


The circular with all the details is here.

Yet in the meantime, I quote some of the main text below. Aas it is a really interesting project and something I would not mind to be involved, had I the time and the expertise! 

The WCPFC has committed to a programme of work designed to identify the data deficiencies that inhibit shark management and propose strategies to obtain better shark data through field studies and better information return from fisheries.

This work has included development of a Bycatch Data Exchange Protocol to standardize bycatch data summaries across the t-RFMOs, a study of shark post-release mortality using pop-up archival tags, and a Pacific shark life history expert panel workshop to review and advise on appropriate life history parameters for WCPFC key shark species.

The Pacific shark life history expert panel’s report (Clarke et al. 2015) urged the t-RFMOs to be more proactive in setting a research agenda for life history and stock structure research. For the Pacific, in particular, it noted the need for further shark life history studies across species in the areas of length-weight/length-length conversion factors, ageing calibration and validation / verification exercises, and reproductive studies. It also identified reproductive studies of shortfin mako shark, ageing studies of hammerhead sharks, and a comparison of Eastern and Western Pacific silky shark life history parameters as specific priorities.

Following on from the workshop, the Common Oceans (ABNJ) Tuna Project prepared a concept note on operational planning for shark biological data improvement for the consideration of WCPFC’s Twelfth Scientific Committee (SC12) in August 2016. The project was not designated as a high or medium priority by the SC that year but was proposed again at SC13 in August 2017 and was designated as a “required” project which should precede any biological work under the WCPFC’s Shark Research Plan.

Funding is available under the Common Oceans (ABNJ) Tuna Project to support the project, therefore, it is not necessary to obtain a WCPFC funding authorization at the Commission’s annual meeting in December 2017.

The objective of this study is to compile, review and prioritize a list of biological data gaps for the WCPFC key shark species and propose a practical plan for filling them. While several important data gaps have already been identified, this study is designed to take the next step by outlining specific and practical proposals which can then be costed and used as the basis for seeking funding. As there is little point in designing studies for which samples cannot be sourced, the starting point should be how samples can be collected, transported and stored with a final consideration of where and how those samples could be analysed.

These terms of reference recognize that WCPFC’s regional observer programme and the Pacific Community’s (SPC’s) tissue bank provide opportunities for sample collection and access which can support broader, potentially Pacific-wide, efforts to study highly migratory shark species. The consultant should however also explore other opportunities such as working with national fisheries agencies, academic and research organizations, industry, and other t-RFMOs to source or share samples. The logistics of sample provision or sharing must also be carefully considered, particularly in light of the listing of most of the WCPFC key shark species on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the associated permitting requirements for importing and exporting samples of such listed species. In some cases, for example vertebral samples, it may be possible to digitize and share image data rather than biological samples and thus streamline the exchange of scientific information. In addition, the costs and complexities of working in remote areas of the Pacific with limited access to refrigeration/freezer capacity on vessels at sea, in port and post-collection shipment routes must also be considered.

Again. the details and ToRs are here

Otherwise, requests for additional information relating to this consultancy and submissions of bids should be directed to:

Dr Shelley Clarke
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission
P.O. Box 2356
Kolonia, Pohnpei State, 96941
Federated States of Micronesia
Phone: (691) 320 1992, Ext: 107