The IUCN/SSC Shark Specialist Group
SSG Background Information
Terms of Reference
Mission: To promote the long-term conservation of the world's chondrichthyan fishes (sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras), effective management of their fisheries and habitats and, where necessary, recovery of populations.
Roles and Activities:
- To promote, catalyze, and document conservation activities on behalf of chondrichthyans.
- To undertake research, conservation, management, and education activities in fulfillment of our mission.
- To provide and improve technical information and advice on the conservation of chondrichthyans to the following constituents:
- government management agencies;
- non-governmental conservation organizations (both international and national);
- intergovernmental research, management, and conservation authorities;
- the fishing sector and other user groups; and
- other organizations or as appropriate.
Special effort will be made to deliver products that meet the needs of these various constituents.
Structure and Membership Policy
- Undertake analyses of available data to evaluate and review the status and trends of chondrichthyan populations, undertake IUCN Red List Assessments, and publish regional Status Reports.
- Assess the negative impacts of fishing and other human activities on these populations.
- Identify research, management, and conservation priorities for chondrichthyans and their fisheries and habitats, and disseminate these in regularly updated publications and through the website.
- Assess options for conservation and management action through interaction with governments and other policy makers thereby providing technical support for the development and implementation of effective conservation strategies, including FAO and RFO initiatives and CITES and CMS listing proposals.
- Facilitate coordination and cooperation in conservation-related research and management on these species to ensure that information can be disseminated and applied as widely as possible.
- Advocacy and Action
- Promote and carry out conservation actions, including those identified in SSG publications.
- Promote awareness about the conservation needs of chondrichthyan fishes to the constituents listed above, as well as the media, funding institutions, scientific and educational communities, and the public at large.
- Publish a newsletter, Shark News, to serve as the primary communication tool on current research and conservation activities among Shark Group members, and to provide up-to-date information on Shark Specialist Group activities and chondrichthyan conservation issues to all interested parties.
- To maximize communication, use the internet and other media to disseminate Shark Specialist Group publications and conservation priorities.
- Work as closely as possible with other components of IUCN, particularly Specialist Groups and the Marine Programme, to promote all aspects of fish conservation.
- Promote the increased allocation of resources for chondrichthyan research, conservation and management.
Shark Specialist Group contact information
- The Shark Specialist Group operates with Co-Chairs, a Deputy Chair and Area Co-ordinators, established as the "Executive Committee". Regional Vice Chairs are in place for each of the twelve SSG regions (see below). A Programme Officer supports the Executive Committee in coordinating the work of the group and a Red List Officer co-ordinates the completion and submission of species assessments.
- In accordance with IUCN statutes, the Co-Chairs are appointed by the Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. Membership in the SSG is by invitation of the Co-Chairs for the period of the current Quadriennium only.
- The membership policy for the Shark Specialist Group is focused on having an active, widely skilled, and globally representative group of members fully supportive of the mission and activities of the SSG.
- The SSG invites members on the basis of:
- relevant and direct expertise in chondrichthyan conservation, research, management, or education;
- expertise in other fields that would be supportive of the SSG's mission and objectives;
- the need for the membership to be representative. Because of the global distribution of chondrichthyans, efforts will continue to be made to provide worldwide representation in the SSG. Membership will remain flexible, and new members are added as they are recognized from as broad a geographic range as possible;
- inactive members or those that no longer support the SSG's mission and objectives will not be reappointed.
- The SSG's internal operations will be flexible, allowing for the convening of regular and ad hoc national, regional or international consultations, to appoint new members, or to address specific conservation issues or techniques.
- The SSG aims to meet at least once a year. Because of the global nature of its membership, regional meetings are encouraged to facilitate maximum participation.
- SSG meetings are routinely open to non-members. Decisions to close meetings will be made by the members of the Executive Committee present, or through prior communication among Executive Committee members.
Claudine Gibson, Programme Officer
c/o Naturebureau International, 36 Kingfisher Court,
Hambridge Road, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 5SJ UK
Tel. (44) (0) 1635 550380, Fax. (44) (0) 1635 550230
IUCN - The World Conservation Union
IUCN is the world's largest and most important conservation network. The Union brings together 82 States, 111 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. Its mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable. It supports and develops cutting-edge conservation science; implements this research in field projects around the world; and then links both research and results to local, national, regional and global policy. Its current programme (2005-2008) priority is to build recognition of the many ways in which human lives and livelihoods, especially of the poor, depend on the sustainable management of natural resources.
The Union is actively engaged in managing and restoring ecosystems and improving people's lives, economies and societies. Its databases, assessments, guidelines and case studies are among the world's most respected and frequently cited sources of information and reference on the environment.
As the world's largest environmental knowledge network, the Union has helped over 75 countries to prepare and implement national conservation and biodiversity strategies. It also has the official status of Observer at the United Nations General Assembly.
Species Survival Commission (SSC)
The SSC is a science-based network of ~7,000 volunteer experts from almost every country of the world, all working together towards achieving the vision of "A world that values and conserves present levels of biodiversity." Its goal is to see the extinction crisis and massive loss in biodiversity universally adopted as a shared responsibility, resulting in action to reduce this loss of diversity within and among species and of ecosystems.
SSC's objectives are to achieve: i) decisions and policies affecting biodiversity influenced by sound interdisciplinary scientific information; ii) modes of production and consumption that promote the conservation of biodiversity adopted by users of natural resources; and iii) capacity increased to provide timely, innovative and practical solutions to conservation problems.
SSC Members, most deployed in >100 Specialist Groups and Task Forces, include researchers, government officials, wildlife veterinarians, zoo and botanical institute employees, marine biologists, protected area managers, and taxonomic experts. Some groups address conservation issues related to particular taxonomic groups; others focus on topical issues such as reintroductions or wildlife health.
SSC's major role is to provide information to IUCN on biodiversity conservation, the inherent value of species, their role in ecosystem health and functioning, the provision of ecosystem services, and their support to human livelihoods. Members also provide scientific advice to conservation organisations, government agencies and other IUCN members, and support the implementation of environmental agreements.
The Shark Specialist Group (SSG)
The SSG was established by the IUCN Species Survival Commission in 1991. The Group provides leadership for the conservation of threatened species and populations of all chondrichthyan fishes. It aims to promote the long-term conservation of the world's sharks and related species (the skates, rays and chimaeras), effective management of their fisheries and habitats, and, where necessary, the recovery of their populations.
The Group appoints its members by invitation. They are individuals who are actively involved in elasmobranch research and fisheries management, marine conservation and policy formulation. Regional Vice-Chairs are appointed to co-ordinate work of the Group around the world and to provide a link between members, Co-Chairs, Deputy Chair, Programme Officer and the SSC. Area Co-ordinators appointed for Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia will help to improve communications between regional groups in these areas and strengthen the network. A Global cross-cutting working group includes people working on international issues and whose knowledge covers several regions.
The completion of Red List assessments for all ~1,200 species of chondrichthyan fish is a major priority for the SSG. Regional and global threatened status' are assessed through a series of workshops. Results are made available through the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in reports that present the status of species, identify major threats, and propose actions to achieve sustainable exploitation. These are intended to enable decision-makers, researchers and scientists identify international, regional and national priorities for adopting appropriate conservation and management measures.
The SSG also provide expert advice regarding listing chondrichthyan fishes on national and international instruments, and support for the implementation of the FAO IPOA-Sharks, including the development of National Shark Plans. Dissemination of information takes place through the SSG's publications and website www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/organizations/ssg/ssg.htm.
Any one interested in contributing to the work of the SSG should contact the Co-Chairs, Deputy Chair or Programme Officer, indicating their field of expertise.
Shark Specialist Group Regions
1. Northeast Atlantic
3. West Africa
4. Sub-equatorial Africa
5. Northwest Atlantic
6. Central America and Caribbean
7. South America
8. Indian Ocean
9. Australasia and Oceania
10. Southeast Asia
11. Northwest Pacific
12. Northeast Pacific