At Sharks And Rays Australia we believe that long-term conservation goals can only be achieved if they are based on sound science, public outreach and working with local stakeholders. SARA was formed with the aim to not just produce science in the ‘ivory tower’ but to involve the general public in our sawfish and shark research expeditions.In many ways, it is ultimately up to them – and you – to look after the incredible species that share the natural world with us.
Now, in 2020, that SARA is in its fifth year, we look back at what we have accomplished and also forward into the future. Our blog keeps you up to date with the many projects we are working on, their successes and downfalls. We have come to the realisation that there are four points that are to be considered when working in conservation and research of endangered species, and these are the aims of SARA:
- To ensure that the public understands the plight of sawfish, and to involve everyone in data collection on these magnificent species.
- To generate and publish data on the ecology, movement patterns, habitat use and distributions of sawfish.
- To have our work acknowledged and thus funded by international and national organisations and governments. In our work we collaborate with many groups, such as Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers, Traditional Land Owners, cattle station managers, and recreational and commercial fishers. While we receive funding from international organisations for our research (see our awesome supporters), our fieldwork remains unfunded by the Queensland or Australian government. This certainly comes with complications, as we cannot involve many groups to the extent that they would like to be involved. After all, even those who want to protect our environment need to eat.
- To ensure that our efforts help to generate meaningful change for sawfish. The main threats to these magnificent animals in Queensland are commercial fisheries. While SARA has received very positive responses when sharing our methods with the commercial fishers we work with, Queensland Fisheries currently does not provide any standardised training. Some fishers have told us that a large, accidentally captured sawfish can be the most dangerous animal they encounter. Therefore, we are currently developing release protocols with fishers.