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Fisher–shark interactions: A loss of support for the Maldives shark sanctuary from reef fishers whose livelihoods are affected by shark depredation

Lookup NU author(s): Danielle Robinson, Dr Steven Newman, Professor Mark WhittinghamORCiD, Dr Richard Francksen, Professor Selina Stead



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 The Authors. Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. Targets for protecting predatory species often fail to consider the human costs of conservation. Human–wildlife interactions can increase following conservation action and present a major ecological and socioeconomic challenge. Using semistructured interviews (n = 103), participatory mapping (n = 57) and Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (50 h) we investigated fisher-shark interactions in one of the world's principal shark sanctuaries. Seventy-three percent of respondents reported an increase in shark depredation postsanctuary implementation. Fisher-reported losses due to shark depredation varied significantly between fisheries and were disproportionately high for reef fishers (>21% of daily vessel earnings). This is attributed to extensive spatial overlap (55%–78%) between reef fishing activity and ecologically validated shark hotspots. We show significant correlations between perceptions of depredation and support for shark sanctuary regulations. Findings demonstrate the need to consider fisher–shark interactions in current and future conservation planning and suggest that management of depredation must be sensitive to diverging perceptions among fisher groups.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robinson D, Newman SP, Whittingham MJ, Francksen RM, Adam MS, Stead SM

Publication type: Letter

Publication status: Published

Journal: Conservation Letters

Year: 2022

Volume: 15

Issue: 6

Print publication date: 01/11/2022

Online publication date: 19/08/2022

Acceptance date: 03/07/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1755-263X

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc


DOI: 10.1111/conl.12912