Ambassador: Bonnie Lie , United States
Bonnie works as principal investigator on the rst project conserving sharks and rays in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Sharks and rays are among the most endangered vertebrates. 24% of species are becoming extinct. They are particularly at risk in Myanmar, where shermen use unsustainable shing practices and neighbours such as China create high demand for these marine animals.
Whilst monitoring shark and ray catches on Myanmar’s western Rakhine Coast, Bonnie immersed herself in local shing communities, who told her they continue to sh sharks to earn money to feed their families. Rakhine State is the second poorest in Myanmar with 78% of the population living in poverty and most live on the coast, 43% are dependent to some degree on shing or aquaculture (according to the Oxfam 2014 report). Sharks and rays are the most valuable catch, and although a small percentage by weight is sold, the value is over 60% of the annual income. Fishing methods using poison electric shock and blasts contribute to the destruction of sh eggs, catch ngerlings and sh have been named. But the pressure on natural resources is high and these communities are at great need for economic assistance. So although shing bans have been introduced, it is important to develop sustainable livelihoods as well. Bonnie is working with the government to create a National Plan of Action and a conservation programme, teaching sherman more sustainable shing practices.