The ecology and ecosystem role of reef sharks in BIOT - ecology to inform protected area enforcement
The British Indian Ocean Territory Marine Protected Area (BIOT MPA) is one of the worlds largest 'no-take' marine reserves at approximately 640,000 square kms. Despite the MPA being established in 2010, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activity continues to be a significant management issue in BIOT with sharks regularly targeted by fishers for their meat and fins.
Since 2013 we have been collaborating with researchers from Stanford University, Oregan State University and Virginia Tech to track hundreds of sharks and rays using both acoustic and satellite telemetry. Establishing a large spatial array of acoustic receivers through the archipelago of small islands, atolls and submerged reefs (the Chagos Archipelago), we track reef sharks to determine hotspots of movement activity and connectivity with a view to informing the movement strategy of the BIOT Patrol Vessel during enforcement. Satellite tags (pop-off archival and SPOT tags) have also been deployed on wide-ranging fishes including tunas and sharks, to explore the efficacy of the MPA for protecting pelagic species.
Funded and supported by the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science, we continue to work closely with the UK Government and MPA management consultancy to tackle poaching inside these protected waters using a combination of technologies and intelligence.
How have enforcement efforts in the British Indian Ocean Territory managed to safeguard elasmobranchs vulnerable to illegal fishing - led by Emma Deeks
The environmental drivers influencing the movement networks of reef sharks in the British Indian Ocean Territory - led by Mike Williamson