THERE is a lack of knowledge about shark populations in the Pacific region and this gap needs to be addressed.
WWF's global shark conservation manager Ian Campbell, who was part of the launch of WWF South Pacific's shark conservation initiative, raised this issue at the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas.
The initiative is headed by Solomon Islands Government officials from their Environment Ministry and is being supported by WWF South Pacific.
"It's not just about the conservation of sharks. It's about starting with one species and working towards a complete management system," said Dr Melchior Mataki, permanent secretary of the Solomon Islands' Ministry for Environment.
"The Solomon Islands are committed ensuring that all fisheries resources are managed and developed in a sustainable manner, and that these resources are utilised at a level that shall ensure their optimum sustainable yield and not endangered by over-exploitation."
Mr Campbell said the organisation hoped to see other regional countries take the challenge to become part of the initiative. Also, it must be remembered that sharks are not just important to marine ecosystems, they also play a significant cultural role in Pacific Island communities."
In attempting to realise such a target, the Solomon Islands and WWF South Pacific are working towards putting together a national plan of action for sharks. The plan is hoped to be completed within the next five years.