The Sharks and Rays programme aims to increase global recognition of Sudan as a marine biodiversity hotspot and to raise awareness the threatened status of sharks and rays, and their potential economic importance for the local communities. Improved knowledge about the movement and residency patterns of shark and ray species will be used to update spatial management plans for Sudan’s Red Sea coast and the wider region. The information will also be used to support the development of sustainable ecotourism to assist local communities to realize economic benefits from the wise use of their marine biodiversity resources.
This international multi-faceted program has been developed by Cousteau (France) in partnership with the local management authority, the Sudanese Wildlife Conservation General Administration (WCGA), SUDIA – Sudanese Development Initiative (Sudan), the University of Windsor (Canada), The Deep Aquarium (United Kingdom) and other local stakeholders. It will be implemented in Sudan by SUDIA and WCGA with the technical support of the international partners.
Shark and ray based eco-tourism can provide economic benefits to local communities through sustainable tourism ventures in areas where there are relatively reliable sightings, which is the case in Sudan. Currently, shark and ray ecotourism brings in $314 million annually worldwide, and the sector is expected to continue growing. Community members inside DMNP in Sudan will have access to microfinance to support self-employment and income-generating opportunities. Better links will also be created with the dive operators.
Marine biologists, MPAs specialists and socioeconomists from Cousteau, University of Windsor and the local non-governmental organisation SUDIA, will conduct state-of-the-art research and train local stakeholders to support monitoring, conservation management and small business development.