Shark specialists gather at the Seattle Aquarium

NE Pacific Shark Symposium 2014 at the Seattle Aquarium

On March 22, the Seattle Aquarium hosted the first Northeast Pacific Shark Symposium. The event, featuring a series of 35 talks on current Northeast Pacific Shark research, was attended by over 80 shark biologists and enthusiasts from the United States and Canada.

How did this event come to be? Since 2004, the Seattle Aquarium has hosted biennial cowshark conservation workshops that gather shark biologists to share knowledge about these little-known species. Over the years, the event has increased in size and scope. In December 2011, the first Pacific Shark Workshop was held in Vancouver, B.C. Because of the success of that event and the growth of the cowshark event, the Aquarium, in collaboration with the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Labs, California, the California State University Long Beach Sharklab, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group Northeast Regional working group, partnered to launch the Northeast Pacific Shark Symposium this year.

The IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG) is a group of 128 experts from 35 countries distributed among 12 regional groups in the fields of shark biology, conservation, management, fisheries and taxonomy. The groups are connected by their joint goal to promote the sustainable use, wise management, and conservation of all sharks, rays and chimaeras.

Seattle Aquarium Curator of Conservation Research Dr. Shawn Larson was asked to be one of 11 members of the Northeast Pacific Shark Specialist Group (NEP SSG). The mission of the group is to reassess the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species assessments for shark species that are or will be 10 years or more out of date during 2013-2016. The plan is to review the list of species occurring between the Eastern Bering Sea and the border between California and Mexico, including the Hawaiian Islands. The first meeting of the new NEP SSG was held at the aquarium on March 21st.

The mission of these assignments? To secure the conservation, management and—where necessary—the recovery of the world’s sharks, rays and chimaeras by mobilizing global technical and scientific expertise to provide the knowledge that enables action. The Seattle Aquarium is proud to be involved with this effort, and to have hosted the first gathering of the new working group.

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