Approaching the “real” state of elasmobranch fisheries and trade

Published on
19. June 2021

Approaching the “real” state of elasmobranch fisheries and trade: A case study from the Mediterranean

I. Giovos, R.N. Aga Spyridopoulou, N. Doumpas, K. Glaus, P. Kleitou, Z. Kazlari, D. Katsada, D. Loukovitis, I. Mantzouni, M. Papapetrou, Y.P. Papastamatiou, D.K. Moutopoulos


Elasmobranchs are sensitive marine species due to their K-strategic life characteristics in combination with the intensification of fisheries. Despite the regulations and conventions protecting several species, elasmobranchs are still caught as bycatch and landed throughout the Mediterranean, a location where the pressure on shark populations is well documented. Severe knowledge gaps still exist regarding their biology, ecology and the exploitation by fisheries, due to limited research and the fact that in almost all Mediterranean countries, elasmobranchs are recorded by the national authorities in aggregated landing categories. To overcome such issues, we contrasted landings and trade of elasmobranchs using an integrative sampling in auction markets, landing sites, and fish markets at three important sites in Greece, combined with DNA analysis to address mislabeling. Five species contributed more than half of the total elasmobranch catches for all fisheries combined (62.5%); Scyliorhinus canicula (21.6%) and to a lesser extent Dasyatis sp., Mustelus mustelus, Raja radula and Dasyatis pastinaca (12.8%, 11.7%, 9.6%, and 6.9% respectively). Results highlighted that small-scale fisheries underreported catches of threatened elasmobranchs. About 50–60% of the elasmobranch landings were threatened species while in the fish markets the corresponding contribution was reduced to 26%. Mislabeling was common throughout the year with several species sold under different names for increasing profit or to hinder their protection status. The current practices do not satisfy Common Fisheries Policy in terms of treacability, and the fishing of threatened elasmobranchs raises additional concerns as a conservation priority.

Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 211, 2021, 105743, ISSN 0964-5691, DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2021.105743


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