Abstract: Overexploitation from direct fishing and bycatch devastated shark populations around the world, leaving considerable doubt as to their ecological status. Yet much of what is known about states of decline has been inferred from industrial fisheries; far less is known about sharks in coastal habitats, where the majority of exploited species live. Here I will discuss results from the recently-completed Global FinPrint project, which collected data from more than 15,000 standardized baited remote underwater video stations on 371 reefs in 58 nations globally. Our findings highlight the extent and impact that fishing has had on reef shark populations, including multiple nations where reef sharks have become functionally extinct. Yet, despite these declines, there are also multiple pathways available for conservation. I will discuss a path forward for reef shark conservation and place these results in context of the wider reef ecosystem.
Biography: Originally from Wolfville, NS Canada, Aaron is a marine ecologist working to solve small-scale fisheries problems in the context of climate change, using Bayesian models to integrate across disciplines and make inferences about how the world works. He has worked extensively on interdisciplinary projects in coral reef ecosystems throughout the Indo-Pacific and is applying these approaches to a wide range of stakeholder-relevant projects in Canada. Aaron contributes extensively to the fisheries and ecology literature in areas relating to environmental disturbance, human impacts, fisheries livelihoods, and food web structure. He has been honoured by the Fisheries Society of the British Isles (Medal) for his contributions to fisheries science. He is currently an Associate Professor and Tier II Research Chair in Fisheries Ecology, leading the Integrated Fisheries lab at Dalhousie University.