Advocacy on

Kenya's Sharks and Rays

Let's save our sharks and rays

Sharks are important for healthy, functioning coral reef ecosystems. However, across the world, there is a lack of understanding about the importance of sharks. Sharks are seen as a threat to humans and not worth conserving. This misconception exists even in Kenya, and it has hindered the conservation of reef sharks. 

The silky shark, categorized as near-threatened globally.

CORDIO, along with our partner, Coral Reef Care, ran an education campaign in Kenya on coastal sharks between 2021 and 2022. The campaign aimed to raise awareness in coastal communities, including children, on the importance of sharks in the marine ecosystems and, in particular, that they were not a threat to humans. Reef sharks rarely attack humans and, when they do, it is only because they feel threatened. Sharks reportedly kill only about 10 humans a year worldwide.

2020 study by MacNeil and co-authors, including scientists from CORDIO, recorded zero sightings of reef sharks in Kenya and concluded such populations to be “functionally extinct”. Nevertheless, they are still caught in local fisheries, and their meat and oil is sold locally, while their fins are sold internationally at high prices for shark-fin soup. Fishing has been estimated to cause the loss of 100 million sharks every year. Conservation and regulatory measures proposed to mitigate fishing-related decline include the establishment of shark sanctuaries and closures, the institution of catch limits and a ban on gillnets and longlines. These are among recommendations informing CORDIO’s input into a shark conservation strategy for Kenya.  

A big part of this awareness campaign was, therefore, focused on shark awareness training of fishers and working with them to reduce the catches of threatened shark species through fishing gear management. The campaign also ran awareness training in schools and trained fisheries officers in shark species identification. CORDIO and Coral Reef Care created awareness materials for sharks, that is booklets for adults and kids, and a poster. This material has also been printed for distributed to Beach Management Units, communities, schools and other NGOs. They can be viewed and downloaded below or shared for free in print upon request. Interested organisations, schools or community groups can reach CORDIO at the following e-mail address,, or download them below. 

Sharks in Kenya need conservation attention. By increasing awareness of their importance, we are working collaboratively with government and fishing communities to protect them.