Killing for conservation the need for alternatives to lethal sampling of apex predatory sharks

Published on 22. June 2011

Neil Hammerschlag, James Sulikowski.


Top oceanic predators, especially large predatory sharks (TOPS), appear to be experiencing
varying degrees of population declines. Life history data (e.g. diet, reproductive status, age
and growth, mortality) are critical for developing effective conservation strategies for TOPS.
Presently, lethal sampling remains the most effective and accurate means of gathering these data. To
meet such challenges, many scientists have utilized specimens obtained from recreational and commercial
fisheries, but have needed to supplement those data with fishery-independent sampling.
However, there is growing public and scientific debate as to whether lethal sampling of TOPS is justified
for obtaining conservation data. Here we describe the development and use of non-lethal alternatives
for collecting data on (1) trophodynamics; (2) maturity state and fecundity; and (3) growth and
mortality rates necessary to enact conservation measures for threatened or even data-deficient TOPS.

ENDANGERED SPECIES RESEARCH  Vol. 14: 135–140, 2011, doi: 10.3354/esr00354.

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