Blue Shark © Linda Pitkin.

Our work is rooted in science and the principles of sustainability. Science removes guesswork. It enables us to make informed decisions, so we can direct our efforts where it's needed most and get results.

IUCN Red List Logo.


Our priorities are shaped by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network. It supports scientific research and manages field projects all over the world. Bringing together governments, Non Government Organisation's, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities.

The IUCN's most recent analysis on sharks compiles the most comprehensive data we have to date on sharks. It's a vital resource. Knowing where and how a species lives, as well as the threats it faces, is key. Without this information we wouldn't know how to protect them. 

Sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras, are among the world's most threatened animals

The IUCN analysis shows that the sharks at highest risk are the large shallow water species. These include angelsharks, thresher sharks and sawfishes. But it's the rays (such as skates, sawfishes, and guitarfishes) that are the most at risk. Yet rays are generally given less attention than their more charismatic relatives.

An estimated 1/4 of all shark, skate, ray and chimaeras species are threatened with extinction. Almost half are listed as Data Deficient. This means that we don't have enough information to assess how threatened they are. Many of these - the “lost” sharks and rays – haven't been seen for decades and may already be extinct.

IUCN Red List Status Categories

Species referred to as threatened are those listed as Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) or Vulnerable (VU).

IUCN Red List - Extinct (EX) logo.   Extinct (EX) - No known individuals remaining.
IUCN Red List - Extinct in the Wild (EW) logo.   Extinct in the Wild (EW) - Known only to survive in captivity, or as a naturalised population.
IUCN Red List - Critically Endangered (CR) logo.   Critically Endangered (CR) - Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
IUCN Red List - Endangered (EN) logo.   Endangered (EN) - Very high risk of extinction in the wild.
IUCN Red List - Vulnerable (VU) logo.   Vulnerable (VU) - High risk of extinction in the wild.
IUCN Red List - Near Threatened (NT) logo.   Near Threatened (NT) - Likely to become endangered in the near future.
IUCN Red List - Least Concern (LC) logo.   Least Concern (LC) - Lowest risk of extinction.
IUCN Red List - Data Deficient (DD) logo.   Data Deficient (DD) - Not enough data to make an assessment. It's vital that we find out more about these species. In particular, what impacts fishing and other pressures are having on their populations. Without this crucial information there's no scientific basis to intervene. These species could all too easily end up on the ever growing list of 'lost sharks'.
IUCN Red List - Not Evaluated (NE) logo.   Not Evaluated (NE) - Has not yet been evaluated.

The infographic below shows the number of shark, skate and ray species listed under each IUCN Red List Category as of 2015:

IUCN Red List Infographic - shows the number of shark species listed under each IUCN Red List Category.


Science is at the heart of our work – we’re guided by scientific evidence and the principles of sustainability. Our advocacy campaigns target sustainability and the need for better data to manage fisheries. Many of our other projects are collaborative in nature and revolve around collecting useful data about sharks. We manage several databases, which provide a wealth of information about different species. These data all feed in to conservation planning and influence our decision-making process.


Get Involved With Shark Conservation


IUCN Red List website

► IUCN Paper - Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays - eLife website

See the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (version 3.1) for further details.

IUCN Status Report for Northeast Atlantic Sharks (pdf)

IUCN Status Report for Mediterranean Sharks (pdf)