True Sanctuary

UCSB researchers recommend satellite technology as a way to create more effective, ‘true’ shark sanctuaries

October 16, 2018
Grey reef shark.
Grey reef shark.

By Sonia Fernandez

When they first set out to follow grey reef sharks around the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Darcy Bradley and her colleagues intended to survey their movement in the protected waters there. What they found was a disturbing development for the Pacific island nation

“It’s not the study we expected,” said Bradley, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute and at its Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. “Instead, we uncovered a high level of illegal shark fishing from within the Marshall Islands shark sanctuary.”

Indeed, of the 15 adult grey reef sharks they satellite tagged to follow around the Marshall Islands’ Exclusive Economic Zone — roughly 2 million square kilometers of which has been declared a safe haven for sharks — eight were suspected of having been illegally fished from the RMI “shark sanctuary.”