Who We Are
The IUCN SSG is a group of 128 experts from 35 countries distributed among 12 regional groups (roughly reflecting FAO fishing areas) in the fields of shark biology, conservation, management, fisheries and taxonomy, connected by their joint goal to promote the sustainable use, wise management, and conservation of all sharks, rays and chimaeras.
Our Vision and Mission
Our vision is for a world where sharks, rays, skates, and chimaeras are valued and managed for sustainability.
Our mission is to secure the conservation, management and, where necessary, the recovery of the world's sharks, rays and chimaeras by mobilizing global technical and scientific expertise to provide the knowledge that enables action.
The IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG) has long been a trusted source of science-based information and advice on sharks and their relatives. This solid reputation has been built on widespread interest in the IUCN Red List as a means of identifying and prioritizing species at risk, monitoring threats, and evaluating conservation action. Our work continues to center on finding expert consensus as to the global status of species, and is guided by the following principles:
- Sharks, rays and chimaeras have ecological, economic, and cultural value;
- Policies regarding these species should be founded on sound science;
- Fishing and other forms of exploitation should be managed for sustainability;
- Minimizing waste is important, particularly given declining food security;
- Communicating the outcomes of SSG initiatives to policy-makers, non-governmental organizations, and the public can lead to improvements in the population status of sharks, rays and chimaeras.
To achieve its mission, the SSG carries out the following core activities with respect to sharks, rays, and chimaeras:
- Continual assessment and reassessment of their IUCN Red List status;
- Development of prioritized, science-based advice for conservation strategies and policies;
- Regular communication of findings to a broad range of audiences;
- Evaluation of the impact of policy developments; and,
- Identification and prioritization of key knowledge gaps and research needs.
Over the course of its 20 year history, the SSG has amassed a range of achievements, including:
- Red List assessments for the vast majority of the world's shark, ray, skate and chimaera species (1,000+ species) through the voluntary efforts of the SSG membership and collaborating scientists from around the world;
- Five regional and four thematic reports incorporating these assessments for various regions or species groups;
- Key roles in advising and informing government officials in the development and implementation of the Food and Agriculture Organization International Plan of Action for Sharks, and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Memorandum of Understanding for Migratory Sharks;
- Vital analyses of proposals for adding sharks and rays to the Appendices of CMS and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES); and,
- Development of specific policy advice for various governments, regional fisheries bodies and businesses, particularly with respect to shark finning and sustainable exploitation.
SSG members generously volunteer their time to be part of a global community of experts working to achieve science-based management of sharks, rays and chimaeras. Members' contributions are the life-blood of the SSG and the considerable achievements listed above are a testament to their dedication to the mission.
SSG members are appointed to four year terms during which they are expected to assist with core activities and act in accordance with the IUCN guidelines. Members are usually assigned to one of 12 regional groups headed by Regional Vice-Chairs. In addition, a number of positions make up a global, cross-cutting leadership team.