Keynote speakers

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.