Dr. Rachel Graham, Founder and Executive Director of MarAlliance, was recently selected by The Pew Charitable Trusts to receive their 2021 fellowship award for marine conservation. She is one of the select few who will receive $150,000 over the next three years to gather information and develop strategies for maintaining shark populations in Panama and encouraging coastal fishing communities to participate in conservation efforts.
“It’s truly an honor to receive a Pew Marine Fellowship. The financial support and network of peers will help bring the thinking of many experts on how to best conserve Panama’s coastal sharks, while improving coastal fishing community resilience to pandemic and climate change events,” Graham said.
Sharks, and particularly hammerhead sharks, are vulnerable to capture and overfishing in Panama, in part due to the strong local demand for their meat and ease of entanglement in fishing nets. Overfishing of sharks and rays is a particularly troubling trend across the globe, as it was recently determined that shark and ray populations have declined by over 70% since 1970 due to overfishing.
Dr. Graham will work with communities to collect and analyze ecological and fisheries data to pinpoint key habitats and other factors that sustain shark and ray populations in Panama. She will use these findings to co-develop fishing practices that shift fishing effort away from critical nursery and foraging habitats to improve the survivorship of sharks and rays.
All of us at WCN are beyond excited for Rachel and this tremendous opportunity for MarAlliance to take part in vital work on behalf of shark and ray conservation.
Read more about the research that Dr. Graham will conduct in Panama here.