Threats, ecology, and conservation opportunities of giant guitarfish in Karimunjawa, Indonesia

Faqih Akbar Alghozali

Critically Endangered giant guitarfish (CITES Appendix II) are heavily exploited as bycatch in the Northern Java Sea. Karimunjawa National Park (KJNP) is located near the main fishing grounds for Northern Java commercial fisheries, where giant guitarfish have also been reportedly bycaught and retained by local artisanal gillnet fishers, which are allowed to operate in certain zones of KJNP. In order to improve the conservation status of the giant guitarfish population in KJNP and protect what might be one of the last strongholds for the species in the Java Sea, this project aims to identify critical threats facing the species and gather ecological data to inform and urge local stakeholders to prioritize conservation and management of giant guitarfish within KJNP. To achieve this aim, this project will combine social research, BRUVs surveys, and community engagement to: (1) Generate baseline information on fishing pressures, local utilization and historical distribution of the species; (2) Generate baseline information on relative abundance and distribution of giant guitarfish; (3) Engage local communities and establish a citizen science network; and (4) Provide a science/evidence based spatial/fisheries management recommendation to local government authorities.

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