A milestone is achieved in basking shark conservation efforts in Ireland
International collaboration between United States, United Kingdom and Irish researchers was key to achieving a 15-year conservation goal for a globally endangered species.
Chelsea Gray, a PhD student in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, did her Master's thesis research on social attitudes towards the Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), finding that they are an untapped tourism market, and that there is widespread support for legal protections for basking sharks in Ireland. To this end, Gray has lobbied for legislation to get legal protection for them in Irish waters under the Wildlife Act (1976) as part of joint efforts with the Irish Basking Shark Group (IBSG), an international network of researchers, educators, and community representatives of which Gray is a member.
On October 2, 2022 this milestone was achieved, and the basking shark has been afforded "protected wild animal" status in Ireland. The basking shark is a globally threatened species which faces a high risk of extinction, and is classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2019.
Read the press release about this landmark decision here: https://science.gmu.edu/media/endangered-basking-shark-us-press-release