Missing information means increasing need for shark data collection through citizen science and mass involvement.
Even though Iran has officially banned the fishing of sharks in 2014 by Iran’s Department of Environment, enforcement is still the hardest part. With insufficient funds and lack of regulation on the enforcing the ban, shark fishing continues, mostly as bycatch. Without actual species specific data of shark fisheries and their catches in the Middle East, enforcement will remain a challenge. UAE based marine researcher, Rima Jabado, works at getting precious data about sharks and rays in the Middle East through her own efforts on the ground as well as through crowdsourced citizen science data collection obtained from the general public, the Gulf Elasmo Project. Anyone can submit their photos and information taken on dives, landing sites or shark markets, about sharks—dead or alive—to aid in research and data collection for change. This proves that conservation efforts is not just limited to marine scientists or conservationists—the public have a stake in it as well.
There is another silver lining—the rare and threatened adult smoothtooth blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus leiodon) have been sighted in the Persian Gulf throughout the year. According to a 2013 research, four to six pup births are recorded each year in spring and summer. New species of sharks are also being identified by scientists with populations of sharks in the Gulf likely being higher than thought, according to studies. Whether current efforts will have far reaching positive consequences to the health of shark populations in the Arabian waters, or a case of being too little too late, remains an uncertainty.