Toward conservation of coastal sharks in the French West Indies

Oceane Beaufort
Published: 12 April 2021
Last edited: 09 November 2021
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The French West Indies have a rich but fragile diversity of sharks and rays. With more than 50 species identified in the territorial waters, more than 30% are on the Red List of endangered species and 30%, near threatened, are likely to join this list soon.


The main goal of this project is to promote the implementation of management measures adapted to local populations of sharks and rays and to the local context of the French West Indies. In other words, to conciliate the protection of sharks and the use of the sea by humans.


For this, complementary methods are used for identify i) the species present in the coastal waters; ii)  the coastal areas frequented by these species; iii) the main threats to these species in the identified areas. Including aerial survey and participatory sciences. 


Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Rocky reef / Rocky shore
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Outreach & communications
Poaching and environmental crime
Science and research
Species management
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Sustainable development goals
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge


Guadeloupe | Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Martin


  • Working on animals that frighten the population.
  • Inform the public that there are baby sharks on the beaches where they swim and they need need to be protected.
  • Regulations for the professional use of drones are restrictive.
  • Restrictive weather conditions (wind too strong to use the drone).
  • Low awareness of the general public on the species and its conservation.


  • Parc National de Guadeloupe.
  • Réserves Naturelles de la Désirade.
  • Parc Naturel Marin de Martinique.
  • Réserve Naturelle de St. Martin.

How do the building blocks interact?

The French West Indies are home to several coastal shark nurseries. These areas are essential for the survival of these species. Unfortunately, the coastal zone is the area most impacted in our islands, in particular by pollution and nautical activities (such as fishing). The French West Indies have a role in the conservation of these species. It is important to act today.


To protect, it is necessary to know, in order to adapt the conservation measures and to propose the most effective actions. But conservation measures (such as fishing regulations) will be useless if the public is not engaged in this cause. We need to protect, learn and share.


The positive impacts of this project follow the baseline of Kap Natirel : "To protect, to learn, to share".


To protect:

This project allowed us to identify the shark and ray species which frequent the shallow coastal waters of the French West Indies. The initiative developed distribution maps and identified the main threats to shark and ray nursery areas, information that will be useful for the managers of beneficiary sites.


The data collected made it possible to support the recommendations in favor of prohibitiing shark and ray fishing for recreational purposes.


To learn:

This projet allowed the implementation of a long-terme monitoring of coastal nurseries in the French West Indies in order to evaluate population state in the time. Including a training for a monitoring team and the acquirement of necessary equipment (including a drone).  


To share:

This project also allowed to create the first exhibition to inform and raise awareness for various public over the next few years and throughout the French West Antilles.


Kap Natirel (Karaib Associasion pou Pwoteksion a la Nati) is a small NGO based on the Guadeloupean Archipelago. In charge of the Sharks Network of the French West Indies (Reguar), it carries out several actions in favor of shark conservation.


Their main goal is to promote the implementation of management measures adapted to local populations of sharks and rays and to the local context of the French West Indies. In other words, to conciliate the protection of sharks and the use of the sea by humans.


With the support of the European Union's the BEST 2.0 program, Kap Natirel is working on a specific project for shallow waters, a big challenge because it's where most of the interaction between sharks and human activities occurs.


Discover this project with the Kap Natirel baseline «Protéger, apprendre, partager» (to protect, to learn, to share).

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océane beaufort Kap Natirel NGO