The Shark Conservation Fund (SCF) aunched at the Third Annual Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C., an annual event hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to address the urgent conservation issues facing the world’s oceans.
The SCF was formed earlier this year as a catalytic funders’ collaborative by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and Oceans 5 to stop the precipitous decline in shark and ray populations, which is being driven by the global market for shark fin, liver oil, cartilage, leather, meat, and ray gill plates. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year. Nearly a quarter of all shark species are threatened with extinction and some species, like the once abundant oceanic whitetip shark, have seen populations decline by 98% in some areas over the last 30 years. Rays have experienced similar declines.
“Sharks and rays have cruised the world’s oceans for tens of millions of years and have evolved to fill critical niches in preserving the health of reefs and other near-shore environments. Yet many species are in imminent danger of extinction as a result of rampant overexploitation and habitat degradation,” said SCF Chair, Jim Angell. “The SCF is a direct response to this serious threat. We have come together around a shared conservation vision and commitment to make significant investments in the future of these species, the oceans, and the billions of people around the world who rely on healthy ocean ecosystems for their food and livelihood,” Angell added.
“Sharks and rays are among the most threatened vertebrates on the planet. For many of these incredible animals the future is uncertain. Unfortunately, the scale of current conservation efforts and investments don’t match the level of urgency sharks and rays face,” said Cristina Mormorunni, SCF’s Acting Director. “SCF was founded by five visionary philanthropic organizations, which forged a shared commitment to fight this looming ecological crisis by funding the most effective conservation projects on the planet,” Mormorunni added.
The SCF supports shark and ray conservation projects around the globe that are strategic, systemic, and at scales able to ensure sharks and rays are fulfilling their ecological roles in marine ecosystems.