Enabling Support for Sharks in the Miskito Cays of Honduras

Gabriela Ochoa

In 2011 Honduras was declared a Shark Sanctuary and prohibited all shark fishing. In 2016, this was partially repealed to allow captures and commercialization of sharks for the Moskitia Region. As a result, an artisanal fishery has emerged in the remote Miskito Cays (MC) and coastal areas of the Moskitia. This longline and gillnet fishery targets endangered hammerheads and other large bodied sharks to satisfy the demand for dry fish during Lent. This is an unregulated/unreported fishery, with no information on species captured, fishing effort or trade. As this information is difficult to acquire from fishers, we propose to establish a fisheries-independent baseline to provide decision-makers with information on the status of shark populations, diversity and distribution in this impacted region. We will concomitantly implement an education campaign focused on creating understanding and fostering behavioural change for sharks through the regional school curriculum which will catalyse a reduction in demand for their products and increase empathy for sharks. Results from the project will be shared widely with government stakeholders and allow them to make science based decisions that will improve management of sharks in Honduras. Education activities will improve conservation ethos in the area through horizontal diffusion.