Despite their intimidating reputations, sharks have far more to fear from us than we do of them. Sharks and rays—who are in the same class of fish—are vulnerable to human induced threats like pollution, climate change, and overfishing. Global demand for their meat and fins is also contributing to severe declines in shark populations. After surviving for 400 million years on this planet, sharks and rays are now in serious trouble. Sharks and rays are an essential part of a marine ecosystem, their disappearance endangers the oceans.
MarAlliance, led by founder Dr. Rachel Graham, works to conserve sharks and rays throughout the Americas, as well as in Micronesia and Cabo Verde, Africa. Scientific research to support fisheries management and conservation efforts while also training and educating local people—from students to fishers—about marine wildlife is at the heart of MarAlliance’s work. MarAlliance also supports the creation and expansion of protected areas and legislation that supports sustainable fisheries to minimize threats and maximize protection of sharks and rays.
“The canaries in the coal mine for how our reefs are actually doing are the large marine wildlife, like sharks and rays.”
—Dr. Rachel Graham
A Unique Conservation Approach
Science for Conservation
MarAlliance works with governments, academia, other NGOs, the private sector and fishermen to increase the understanding of target species that is needed to support effective management and conservation efforts. They also work on building the next generation of monitors; training students and other partners in techniques for monitoring sharks, rays, and turtles, and assessing how marine protected areas impact the health of large marine species.
Fostering Behavioral Change
Working primarily with local communities and creating corresponding educational programs, MarAlliance is changing how people think of sharks and rays. They tackle issues of sustainable fisheries, responsible seafood consumption, and critical habitat protection through the lens of sharks and rays. They also show people the value of large marine species, both as indicators of the health of the oceans and as magnets for eco-tourism. Because fishing often results in the unintentional killing of sharks and rays, MarAlliance seeks to reduce the use of unsustainable fishing gears such as nets and longlines and helps create alternative pathways for income besides fishing.
MarAlliance has worked to establish local and international networks of partners to replicate and advance research and outreach efforts, helping to strengthen and promote the conservation of marine wildlife. They now operate in nine countries throughout the world and have 24 partners they work closely with to achieve the greatest conservation success possible.
countries received technical advice for the development of National Plans of Actions for Sharks
baselines for sharks and rays in Belize, Honduras, and selected sites for Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and Cabo Verde.
Dr. Rachel Graham
Founder and Executive Director
Rachel has been fascinated by the ocean ever since her childhood in Tunisia. She’s worked with fishers to establish effective conservation goals for nearly 20 years. In 2011, she won the prestigious Whitley Fund for Nature Gold Award, and in 2014 she founded MarAlliance to promote impactful and inclusive grassroots science and conservation of marine wildlife. Rachel is probably best known for her successful conservation work with whale sharks and she is now focused on protecting what she calls “toothy” sharks, as well as rays and other threatened marine species.
How You Can Help
$50 covers the cost of bait required for underwater video monitoring of sharks.
$100 funds the monitoring of large marine species by one fisher.
$250 supports running two school presentations with materials.
When you designate your donation to a specific species, 100% of your donation will go directly to the field to support this species.
It’s a gorgeous afternoon; a generous breeze moving off the sea is keeping the heat in check. Rachel Graham of MarAlliance is on a Belizean beach deep in conversation with a local fisher—a sun-soaked man in his late 40s who’s describing his historical encounters with some unusual fish.