Sonja Fordham

Shark Advocates International founder and President, Sonja Fordham, has been a leader in the field of shark conservation for nearly two decades. She directed shark conservation projects at the Washington, DC based Ocean Conservancy from 1991-2009. In mid-2006, she began a three and a half year assignment in Brussels as policy director for the Shark Alliance. Her work has focused on publicizing the plight of sharks and advocating science-based policies on their behalf before fishery management and wildlife conservation bodies.

Ms. Fordham has been at the forefront of numerous, landmark shark conservation actions, including the:

  • First US Atlantic shark management plan and finning ban (1993)
  • Domestic protections for 20 particularly vulnerable Atlantic shark species (1997, 1999, 2008)
  • US Shark Finning Prohibition Act and resulting regulations (2000, 2002)
  • First international shark protections, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (2002)
  • United Nations General Assembly Resolutions encouraging shark conservation (2003, 2004, 2007)
  • First international finning bans, Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Oceans (2004, 2005)
  • First listing and recovery plan for US marine fish (sawfish) under the Endangered Species Act (2003, 2009)
  • EU protections for numerous endangered shark and ray species (2008 - 2010)
  • European Community Plan of Action for the Conservation of Sharks (2009)
  • First international shark fishing bans at Atlantic and Indian Ocean tuna bodies (2009, 2010)

Ms. Fordham serves as Deputy Chair for the Shark Specialist Group of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and and Chair of the Conservation Committee for the American Elasmobranch Society, the world's foremost association of shark scientists. She has co-authored numerous publications on shark fisheries management and has been appointed to the following advisory panels:

  • International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas US
  • Advisory Committee Northwest Atlantic Fisheries
  • Organization US Consultative Committee
  • National Marine Fisheries Service Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel
  • Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Spiny Dogfish Advisory Committee
  • New England Fishery Management Council Skate Advisory Committee
  • Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Coastal Shark Advisory Panel
  • National Marine Fisheries Service Smalltooth Sawfish Recovery Team
  • International Seafood Sustainability Foundation Environmental Stakeholder Committee

Ms. Fordham received a U.S. Department of Commerce Environmental Hero Award in 2000, a Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Fishery Achievement Award in 2004, the inaugural Peter Benchley Shark Conservation Award in 2007, and the IUCN Harry Messel Award for Conservation Leadership in 2012. In 2008, Washingtonian magazine named her one of 30 local Eco-Heroes.

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