The 10×10 Strategy will work with governments to increase the number of protected areas of sawfish and rhino rays.

With the number of sharks and rays in critical decline, the Wildlife Conservation Society has launched a ten-year plan that will focus on 10 countries, including Papua New Guinea.

A key focus will be on conservation programmes, that will focus on specific species, to try combat overfishing.

Papua New Guinea country manager for the World Conservation Society, Adrian Tejedor told Pacific Beat that PNG has the highest levels of diversity for the sawfish and rhino rays.

“There are very few species [of sawfish] in the world and Papua New Guinea has the largest number, which is four, in the Gulf of Papua, right across from Australia,” he said.

“They’re really vulnerable as by-catch because fishermen are targeting all kinds of fish and sharks, mostly for fin trade,” Tejedor said.

“But these species are so rare, the sawfish and rhino rays, that they are not targeted specifically but they are mostly caught accidentally and… harvested and sold but they are so rare, they are nearly extinct across the world”.

“The last stronghold is the Gulf of Papua in Papua New Guinea,” he said.

Tejedor said their 10-year plan, called 10×10 Strategy, will work with governments to increase the number of protected areas, including in PNG.

His organisation has already been working with local communities in PNG to create ‘tambu’ or protected areas on the coast and they will link these into locally managed marine areas.

This story was produced by Tahlea Aualiitia, published at ABC on 24 June 2021, reposted via PACNEWS.

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