Indonesia is the world’s leading shark-fishing nation, netting an estimated average landing of about 100,000 tons each year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Although regulations seek to constrain and manage Indonesia's shark fishery, their implementation is limited in part by the scattered and unorganized status of the database used for conservation purposes. Existing data on shark biodiversity is also patchy, heavily reliant on industry reports and unavailable to public.
Bionesia is a non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect Indonesian biodiversity. This project will leverage the NGO's extensive experience with environmental DNA to enrich an existing database on 2,000 fish species found in Eastern Indonesia's coral reefs. The project will focus on mobilizing eDNA occurrence data for elasmobranchs (Elasmobranchii), a class of cartilaginous fish including sharks, rays, skates and sawfish heavily targeted in global fisheries.
The project's combined activities will contribute to regional education, research and marine conservation. The preparation of a comprehensive list of the groups using eDNA metabarcoding and development of a practical field guidebook on collecting and analyzing eDNA data for research will support training for conservationists. The project will also leverage Bionesia's existing Shark and Ray Programme currently funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and USAID.