Symposium information

The SASRS will be composed of a combination of oral and poster presentations, workshops, and public events – with plenty of added fun and adventure planned for attendees. Keynote presentations will be scheduled throughout the Symposium.

Theme: Elasmobranchs in the blue economy

In a developing society, the establishment of a “blue economy”, the sustainable use of the ocean’s resources to ensure the growth and improvement of livelihoods is crucial. Hand-in-hand with this critical need is the need to conserve and protect the health of the marine ecosystem.

Sharks, rays and other elasmobranchs fill vital roles in this ecosystem; from apex predators and keystone species, to scavengers and charasmatic conservation flagships, elasmobranchs are both inherently affected by, and in turn affect the blue economy.

The 5th annual Southern African Shark & Ray Symposium invites experts from all aspects of marine ecology and ocean resource development to share their knowledge and experience in these fields to better elucidate the fundamental links between elasmobranchs and the blue economy.

Session themes:

Travel grants for African students

The 5th Southern African Shark and Ray Symposium (SASRS) will make travel grants available to post-graduate students (MSc and PhD students) from the African continent, outside of South Africa. These travel grants have been generously sponsored by the Save our Seas Foundation, who will contribute between R5 000 and R10 000 towards travel expenses for a select number of students who apply.

This contribution includes full or partial coverage of return flights and three nights’ accommodation within a 10km radius of the venue, but excludes symposium registration costs, the gala dinner, daily lunches, and transport within Cape Town. Applicants for these grants must also submit an abstract for oral presentation.

To apply for this contribution, please email us with the following information:

  • A letter of motivation for this funding (including details of flights and accommodation costs), written by the applicant
  • A letter of endorsement from the applicant’s academic supervisor
  • Proof of submitted abstract for oral presentation at the 5th SASRS to be submitted no later than 19 June 2019
  • Proof of applicant’s registration at an African university
  • A copy of the applicant’s passport

Please note: Applicants who are awarded a travel grant must register for the Presentation Skills workshop at the 5th SASRS.

Important dates

1 May 2019Early bird registration closes
19 June 2019Abstract submission deadline
19 June 2019Travel grant application deadline
19 July 2019Abstract acceptance
31 August 2019 Final registration date
31 August 2019T-shirt order deadline
7 to 9 October 20195th Southern African Shark & Ray Symposium
7 October 2019Welcome evening at 18h30
8 October 2019Public event at 18h30 (details TBA)
9 October 2019Gala dinner at 19h00

Registration fees

ItemClosing DateCost
Early bird registration (professional)1 May 2019ZAR 1 200
Early bird registration (student)1 May 2019ZAR 850
Late registration (professional)31 August 2019ZAR 1 500
Late registration (student) 31 August 2019 ZAR 950
Gala dinner 31 August 2019 ZAR 250
Gala dinner accompanying person 31 August 2019 ZAR 250
Symposium T-shirt31 August 2019ZAR 200
Public event (to be announced)TBATBA
Portswood validated parking (per day)Mid-SeptemberZAR 65

Abstracts & Presentation information

Abstract submissions are open – please get your abstracts to the Symposium committee before 19 June. Abstracts can be submitted to [email protected].

Abstract submission format

Presenters may give both an oral presentation and poster presentation should they wish.

Abstracts need to be submitted as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) file with editing enabled. The submitted abstract should contain the following:

  • Presentation title (no more than 20 words)
  • Presentation format (oral, poster or both)
  • Session theme preference
  • Name/s, institutional affiliation/s and contact details or author/s
  • Name of presenter
  • Abstract of 200 to 300 words, providing sufficient information for the content of your presentation to be well represented.

If you plan on submitting abstracts for multiple presentations, please do so in seperate documents.

Oral presentations

Oral presentations have been allocated 15 minutes each. Time management is vital, so we ask that you aim to limit your presentations to 12 minutes and allow three minutes for questions and discussion. Oral presenters are urged to give more time to the objectives of their studies and scientific results obtained rather than to literature review, materials and methods and /or description of the study sites.  Presentation slides must be submitted as Microsoft PowerPoint files and compatible with Windows 10, and can be submitted at registration or before the session when they will be presented.

Poster presentations

Poster presentations will be held in a dedicated session at the Symposium. Posters will be displayed variously throughout the Symposium. Presenters should hand over their posters to the poster venue technician on the first day of the Symposium, before the official welcoming event. Standard poster size is A1 (841 x 594mm / 33.1 x 23.4in). Each poster should contain the title, author(s) name and address of the presenter (institution, city, country). If possible, attach a passport-sized photograph of the presenter to the upper right-hand corner of the poster for easy identification during the presentation session. Posters can be handed in at registration on 7 October 2019.

Keynote speakers 2019

Dr Alison Kock

Cape Research Centre, SAIAB, iCWild

Securing the future of sharks in the blue economy: The importance of collaboration

Dr Alison Kock is a marine biologist at the Cape Research Centre, South African National Parks and an Honorary Research Associate at the South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity and the Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa, University of Cape Town. Her current research focuses on marine protected area effectiveness and the role of top predators in marine ecosystems. She is a member of several national scientific working groups including the Top Predator and National Marine Biodiversity Scientific Working Groups and the Seabird Technical Team. She is also a committee member of Shark Spotters and the Global Shark Movement Project.

Dr Rhett Bennett, Dave van Beuningen & Mike Markovina

Wildlife Conservation Society

Heading into deep water: Elasmobranch fisheries in the Western Indian Ocean

Growing up at the coast, fishing, snorkelling and surfing, Rhett developed a passion for the marine environment, which led to a PhD in Ichthyology at Rhodes University. Rhett’s work focuses on long-term monitoring, marine protected areas, ecological effects of fishing and animal movement behaviour, for applied conservation. This work has involved policy development, underwater and fishery surveys, and tagging of fishes, sharks and rays, throughout southern Africa. Rhett coordinates the Western Indian Ocean shark program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, including science-based, applied conservation and policy development, to improve the conservation status of sharks and rays in the WIO.

Dave has worked for several shark-focused NGOs throughout his career, contributing to research on various species as well as human-shark mitigation measures. He then completed an MSc in conservation biology at the University of Cape Town and now works for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Western Indian Ocean shark and ray program as a conservationist. He contributes to various aspects of the program, including gap analyses to identify data gaps and research priorities for sharks and rays, and conducting field research in multiple WIO countries, all with the ultimate goal of improving the conservation status of elasmobranchs in the region.

Mike completed an MSc in Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University, followed by fisheries research and law enforcement for WCS in Gabon. He spent two years documenting fisheries conservation challenges and solutions, across 42 countries throughout Africa, Europe and Asia. He then led the East African Marine Transect Expedition, which contributed open access baseline data on East Africa’s coral reefs. Mike spent six years as a fisheries consultant to the Indian Ocean Commission’s EU funded Project SmartFish, focusing on fisheries law enforcement and organised fisheries crime. A dive instructor for 18 years and passionate underwater photographer, Mike now heads up the WCS Tanzania Marine Program.


These workshops are available to Symposium attendees who have registered for them. More details will become available closer to the time.

Pre-Symposium: Acoustic Telemetry Workshop (VEMCO)

  • Date: Sunday 6 October
  • Time: 13h00 – 17h00
  • Venue: Tranquility, Two Oceans Aquarium
  • Description: VEMCO Acoustic Telemetry Technology and Applications
  • Hosts: Silvana Germana, VEMCO Sales Consultant

Refreshments will be served. Signup is required.

Registration is free but limited to 20 attendees. Please contact Silvana at [email protected] or Enrico at [email protected] to sign-up