Fisheries and conservation assessment of sharks in Pacific Panama

Published on
09. December 2019

Fisheries and conservation assessment of sharks in Pacific Panama

Hector M. Guzman, Roberto Cipriani, Angel J. Vega, Jorge Manuel Morales‐Saldaña


1. In Panama, shark fisheries were initially developed in the 1980s and progressively increased in production in the 1990s mainly due to the high demand for shark fins and meat from the international Asian market. Since then, and despite the exploitation rate (average 3,514 t year–1) and endangered status of some species, shark fisheries have seldom been studied, and official statistics are general or incomplete and not suitable for the development of appropriate conservation and management strategies.

2. To understand the dynamics of shark fisheries in Panama, field surveys were conducted between 2007 and 2009 at several landing ports of small‐scale and industrial fisheries, at fish processing plants and on‐board fishing vessels in Pacific Panama, where most of the fishing vessels of the country operate.

3. In general, it was found that the artisanal and industrial fisheries of the Pacific coast of Panama regularly exploit at least 18 species of sharks, which are also being exploited by neighbouring countries in the eastern Pacific, suggesting the importance of coordinated conservation initiatives across the multiple jurisdictions. A large number of the individuals caught were immature, implying a certain level of impact on recruitment rates. This pattern was particularly evident in species such as Sphyrna lewini, for which immature individuals represented at least 99% and 63% of the total catch by small‐scale and industrial fisheries, respectively. Catch per unit of effort analyses showed that Carcharhinus and Sphyrna species were the most exploited (representing ~80% of the catches) by industrial fisheries in Panama between 2006 and 2009, suggesting that fishery management should provide special attention to these groups.

4. It is expected that the information presented here provides a baseline to develop new regulations, including the implementation of annual quotas and fishing seasons and the protection of nursery areas, for the long‐term sustainability and conservation of sharks in Panama.

Aquatic Conservation, Early View Version, DOI: 10.1002/aqc.3245


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