KAUST scientist leads study on marine conservation

The report revealed that even the remotest parts of the ocean appear to offer highly migratory sharks little refuge from industrialized fishing fleets.
Updated 24 July 2019

KAUST scientist leads study on marine conservation

An international team of more than 150 scientists from 26 countries, including a King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) professor, has collated movement data from nearly 2,000 sharks tracked with satellite transmitter tags. 

The groundbreaking study, published in the journal Nature reports, revealed that even the remotest parts of the ocean appear to offer highly migratory sharks little refuge from industrialized fishing fleets.

The researchers, part of the marine megafauna movement, brought together by Carlos Duarte, professor of marine science at KAUST, mapped shark positions and revealed “hotspots” of space use in unprecedented detail. 

“This research highlights the need and power of collaboration to better understand global conservation challenges in the open ocean,” said Duarte, co-author of the paper.

Regional declines in abundance of some shark populations such as shortfin mako shark — the fastest shark in the sea — have led to widespread calls for catch limits in the high seas.  But precisely where in the vast expanse of the oceans’ sharks aggregate and how much fishing takes place in those chosen habitats remains poorly known globally, even though it will be crucial to selecting sites to conserve sharks. 

“By overlaying global maps of shark abundance and movement contributed by over 150 researchers worldwide and fishing vessel movement data retrieved from the automatic identification system vessels to report their position, we have produced a global map of risks to shark conservation from the fishing industry. This work will help to advance conservation of endangered marine life,” Duarte added.

Researchers found multi-species pelagic shark hotspots were mostly located in frontal zones, boundaries in the sea between different water masses that are highly productive and food-rich.

They then calculated how much the hotspots were overlapped by global fleets of large, longline fishing vessels — the type of fishing gear that catches most pelagic sharks.

Strikingly, they found 24 percent of the mean monthly space used by sharks globally falls under the footprint of pelagic longline fisheries. Commercially exploited sharks such as North Atlantic blue and shortfin mako sharks overlap was much higher, with an average of 76 percent and 62 percent of their space use, respectively, overlapping with longlines each month. Even internationally protected species such as great white and porbeagle sharks had overlap values exceeding 50 percent. 

“Our results show major high seas fishing activities are currently centered on ecologically important shark hotspots worldwide,” said Professor David Sims, co-author of the study as part of the Global Shark Movement Project based at the Marine Biological Association Laboratory in Plymouth, UK.

The team’s findings indicate large sharks — some of which are already endangered globally — face a future with limited spatial refuge from industrial longline fishing effort.


A hundred universities take part in Dubai’s Global Grad Show

Some of the projects at Global Grad Show held last week in Dubai correspond to themes such as health, wealth and disparity, gender and equality, sustainability, education and technology.
Updated 19 November 2019

A hundred universities take part in Dubai’s Global Grad Show

A one-of-a-kind exhibition, showcasing graduate projects from more than 100 universities from 43 countries, in the fields of design, science, technology and engineering, was held last week in Dubai.
Held in partnership with Investment Corporation of Dubai, Global Grad Show opened its 5th and most diverse edition to date on Nov. 12 and ran until Nov. 16.
New entrants include established names such as Columbia University, Goldsmiths and the University of Pennsylvania, alongside leading universities from countries participating for the first time, including Colombia, Kuwait and the Philippines.
Global Grad Show is a significant component of Dubai Design Week, which is held under the patronage of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. Earlier this year, Global Grad Show was named as a key initiative under the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority’s plan to evolve Dubai into a global hub for culture and innovation.
Sheikha Latifa said: “This initiative is at the heart of Dubai’s vision to create a brighter future for all people through progress and innovation. Global Grad Show is a call to action for government and private entities to revisit their challenges and needs in response to current socioeconomic issues. I encourage all entities to engage with the students and collaborate to bring their ideas to life.”

HIGHLIGHT

This year’s expanded program includes an entrepreneurship program supported by A.R.M. Holding, which has pledged 10 million dirhams ($2.7 million) to advance projects into startups.

Mohammed I. Al-Shaibani, executive director and chief executive of Investment Corporation of Dubai, said: “With each year of Investment Corporation of Dubai’s participation at Global Grad Show, we have witnessed ever greater enthusiasm and interest from the international cultural, creative, and intellectual communities. This reception is a true endorsement to the calibre that the Global Grad Show has developed over its five years.”
Under the curation of Eleanor Watson, Global Grad Show explores how innovation can impact our lives through different spheres: The Human, The Home, The Community, The City and The Planet. Some of the projects correspond to themes such as health, wealth and disparity, gender and equality, sustainability, education and technology.
Ranging from high-tech to low-tech solutions, highlight projects in the 2019 exhibition include: “Swiv,” a toothbrush for children with cognitive disabilities, allowing them to clean their teeth with a single physical motion; “Jarvis,” a mixed reality headset, enabling doctors to accurately measure the brain’s response to distractions or activities when conducting cognitive tests for severe head trauma, pharmaceutical efficacy and ADHD; and “Ro-Biotics,” a microscopic robot created from 4D printed materials to be ingested in the place of an antibiotic, which captures infections in the blood stream.
This year’s expanded program includes an entrepreneurship program supported by A.R.M. Holding, which has pledged 10 million dirhams ($2.7 million) to advance projects into startups.