Official stats mask shark and ray species caught in the Mediterranean and Black seas

April 08, 2019

Shark and ray species commonly caught in the Mediterranean and Black seas are not being reported in official statistics, new research from the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia shows.

A new study published in Marine Policy reveals that 97 per cent of the sharks and rays caught and brought to market domestically by fleets from the European, North African and Middle Eastern countries that surround these seas are not reported by species.

"The Mediterranean and Black Seas have historically harboured a high diversity and abundance of sharks and rays, but now between between 53 per cent and 71 per cent of them face an elevated risk of extinction," said Madeline Cashion, lead author of the study, who carried out the research at the Sea Around Us initiative at UBC's Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries.

By not keeping track of the different species of sharks and rays that they are bringing to port, countries may be further threatening those already at risk.

"Part of the problem is that many sharks and rays in the region are caught as bycatch in fisheries targeting other species and are brought to port either because there is a small market for them or because, by law, they cannot be thrown back at sea," Cashion said. "If neither fishers nor authorities keep detailed records of what is being caught, then it's very difficult to detect declines and design effective measures to protect threatened species."

Despite the lack of reporting, Cashion found in her research that sharks and rays have become increasingly rare following centuries of exploitation and the more recent expansion and intensification of fisheries in the Mediterranean, in particular of the non-European ones. In many cases, catch data is the only source of information to know if species still exist where they were historically found.

"The problem is that detailed catch data is hard to come by because species identification can be very tricky," Cashion said. "Good reporting relies on the financial and logistical support of governments and fisheries management organizations. Fishers can't be expected to take it on alone."

Given the threats posed by the fishing industry to at-risk sharks and rays due to the lack of specific information, the researchers call for a better implementation of existing data collection and reporting policies.

They also call for official statistics to start accounting for fish that are caught and thrown back into the ocean and those that are caught incidentally.

"To understand the real trends of shark and ray exploitation and abundance, we need to know what is discarded at sea because not all species survive after being pulled up by a net," said Daniel Pauly, co-author of the study and the Sea Around Us Principal Investigator. "For example, 98 per cent of scalloped hammerheads die but when it comes to thornback rays, only 2 per cent of them perish. We just need to know what is being caught."
-end-
The study "Official catch data underrepresent shark and ray taxa caught in Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries" was published in Marine Policy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.02.041

University of British Columbia

Related Fisheries Articles from Brightsurf:

Assessing El Niño's impact on fisheries and aquaculture around the world
New report presents the main regional consequences caused by the five types of the climate pattern.

Dissolved oxygen and pH policy leave fisheries at risk
In a Policy Forum, ''Dissolved oxygen and pH criteria leave fisheries at risk'' published in the April 24 issue of the journal Science, Stony Brook University's Dr.

Fisheries management is actually working, global analysis shows
Nearly half of the fish caught worldwide are from stocks that are scientifically monitored and, on average, are increasing in abundance.

Meeting the challenges facing fisheries climate risk insurance
Insurance schemes with the potential to improve the resilience of global fisheries face a host of future challenges, researchers say.

Healthy mangroves help coral reef fisheries under climate stress
Healthy mangroves can help fight the consequences of climate change on coral reef fisheries, according to a University of Queensland-led study.

Study champions inland fisheries as rural nutrition hero
Researchers from MSU and the FAO synthesize new data and assessment methods to show how freshwater fish feed poor rural populations in many areas of the world.

For global fisheries, it's a small world after all
Even though many nations manage their fish stocks as if they were local resources, marine fisheries and fish populations are a single, highly interconnected and globally shared resource, a new study emphasizes.

New study maps how ocean currents connect the world's fisheries
It's a small world after all -- especially when it comes to marine fisheries, with a new study revealing they form a single network, with over $10 billion worth of fish each year being caught in a country other than the one in which it spawned.

Federal subsidies for US commercial fisheries should be rejected
A pending rule change proposed by the US National Marine Fisheries Service would allow the use of public funds to underwrite low-interest loans for the construction of new commercial fishing vessels.

Sustainable fisheries and conservation policy
There are roughly five times as many recreational fishers as commercial fishers throughout the world.

Read More: Fisheries News and Fisheries Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.