Saving the Critically Endangered giant guitarfishes in Ghana

Seidu Issah

The proposed project aims to improve the conservation and management of the Critically Endangered African wedgefish (Rhynchobatus luebberti) and blackchin guitarfish (Glaucostegus cemiculus) through research and community participatory approaches. The decline of these species is driven by high demand for their meat and fins coupled with over-exploitation and susceptibility to capture by a variety of fishing equipment. Anecdotal reports from artisanal fishers in western Ghana suggest the capturing of these two giant guitarfish species. However, there are no scientific baseline data including catch rates, ecology, biology and composition on these species. This lack of data impedes efforts to develop any comprehensive conservation strategy to protect these species. Consequently, we seek to determine catch patterns, historical and current distribution, and insights into the biology, socio-economic and trade characteristics of these two species in Ghana, by conducting landing site and market surveys. The results of this project are crucial for devising conservation strategies for these species in Ghana, and also providing some of the only information from the Eastern Atlantic for developing a global conservation strategy for wedgefishes and guitarfishes. An overarching goal of this project is the use of diverse community-driven programmes to create awareness on the plight of elasmobranchs.