Marine Life Talk at NOC in Southampton – 6 November 2014

Shark fishing

6 November 2014 – Francesca Trotman

The importance of sharks in our ecosystems

Concerns over the impact of shark fishing on the marine ecosystem are now being voiced worldwide. It’s an area that needs to be explored further, to save shark fisheries from collapse. Some scientific papers suggest that current trade volumes in numbers of sharks are close to or possibly exceeding the maximum sustainable yield levels. Sharks are a keystone species and have inhabited the oceans for over 700 million years. The removal of such an ancient species will have cascade effects throughout the marine web beyond the capability of scientific predications. Less economically developed countries are being exploited by richer countries for shark fins and exotic animal goods.

Mozambique is one of the countries where this is happening and shark and ray killing is a major problem. Artisanal fisheries are substantially under-reported in this country due to the civil war in the 90s. This presentation will focus on my research, my resulting marine conservation organization and potential opportunities for volunteering. It emphasizes the growing need of fisheries data collection in less economically developed, and politically unstable and exploited countries in Africa, such as Mozambique.

My organisation will focus on research and education. The research will identify the most regularly caught shark species, their ages and sexes, the most common fishing techniques the resulting effect on the marine biodiversity of the megafauna in the area. The education section will work with both the active fishermen and the younger generation. We will do talks with the adults about the effects their fishing has on the seas and also teach in the local schools, to educate the children on the importance of sustainable fishing. To do this research and run these education schemes I need a team and therefore I am running a volunteer scheme in the summer of 2015.

Research like mine and closely related research is a contemporary topic that should be at the forefront of ensuring long term survival for the human race. Without sharks and rays, the marine ecosystems will ultimately collapse and as a result, the fisheries sector will fold and a huge part of protein provided by the sea, utilized by mankind, will vanish. This topic needs to be addressed.

Francesca Trotman, is a student of the University of Southampton, studying MSci Marine Biology. She has been passionate about marine biology since she was 12 and her dream job has always involved sharks in some way.

In 2013, Francesca attended Fiona Ayerst’s Underwater Photography Internship in Mozanbique, while there she noticed the local artisanal fishermen brought up a lot of sharks and rays, she returned in 2014 to collect data for her master’s dissertation on The Characterization of Artisanal Fisheries in Mozambique.

Pippa Fitch, Chloe Bentley and Zoe Holbrook, currently in their third year of the Msci Marine Biology programme went with her as research assistants.

Francesca wanted to continue this as a long term project and is in the process of founding ‘Love The Oceans’, a marine conservation organisation that will contribute to research and education in Mozambique and ultimately work towards setting up Marine Protection Areas around the country. Francesca is recruiting volunteers to help collect this data next August- October (shark fishing season) and also help to teach sustainable fishing to the local fishermen and children at a ground roots level.

Next Marine Life Talk

4 December – tbc

Free admission – these talks are open to the public

This talk will be in the Henry Charnock Lecture Theatre, Level 4 and will start at 7.30pm, please arrive at 7.15pm.

Arrangements for wheelchairs must be made in advance. Unless it is possible to descend via the stairs in an emergency, access to upper floors cannot be permitted as lifts are automatically immobilised when the fire alarm is activated.

The National Oceanography Centre is reached via Dock Gate 4 (between Southampton’s Town Quay and Ocean Village).

Event dates: 
Thursday 6 November 2014 - 19:15 to 21:30