The neglected complexities of shark fisheries

Published on
19. September 2019

The neglected complexities of shark fisheries, and priorities for holistic risk-based management

Hollie Booth, Dale Squires, E.J. Milner-Gulland


Sharks and their cartilaginous relatives (Class Chondrichthyes, herein ‘sharks’) are one of the world’s most threatened species groups. Their slow life history traits and vulnerability to capture make them particularly susceptible to overfishing, and they are widely caught in both target and by-catch fisheries. Fisheries management measures that can effectively reduce shark fishing mortality are urgently required to halt population declines and species extinctions. We provide an overview of typical measures for understanding and managing risks to sharks, and highlight critical gaps relating to incorporating socio-economic factors in to research and management. We argue that neglecting these factors hinders effective shark conservation, and has negative consequences for people. We emphasise the importance of a holistic approach, which explicitly considers socio-economic factors in decision-making. Based on this, we propose the first framework for assessing feasibility in a shark management context, which could be integrated with traditional fisheries risk assessments in order to bridge this gap. This framework considers key dimensions of the costs, benefits and overall enabling environment for shark management in a given fishery. Overall, managers and policy makers must consider socio-economic factors in shark conservation efforts to deliver better outcomes for sharks and people. Our simple feasibility framework can support this by enabling costs, benefits and context to be explicitly considered in planning and policy-making, alongside the typical biological and technical risks to sharks in fisheries.

Ocean & Coastal Management, In Press, Corrected Proof, DOI 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2019.104994


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