Challenges in avoiding deep-water shark bycatch in Azorean hook-and-line fisheries

Published on
27 October 2022

Challenges in avoiding deep-water shark bycatch in Azorean hook-and-line fisheries

Laurence Fauconnet, Diana Catarino, Diya Das, Eva Giacomello, José Manuel Gonzalez-Irusta, Pedro Afonso, Telmo Morato


Deep-water sharks are highly diverse, vulnerable, and understudied as a group, despite the increasing pressures on their populations. Twenty-five species of deep-water sharks have been recorded in the Azores, an oceanic archipelago in the mid-North Atlantic, that are regularly caught as bycatch in hook-and-line fisheries. Avoiding the bycatch of deep-water sharks presents multiple challenges due to their high catchability, difficulties in correctly identifying species, and the general lack of data on these species. This review summarizes the findings of recent studies from the region, providing an up-to-date science-based framework for mitigating bycatch effects of Azorean hook-and-line fisheries. Several depth-based, area-based, and gear-based measures have been studied that demonstrate the potential to either avoid or increase the survival of deep-water shark bycatch. However, these measures may have limited efficacy for some species (e.g. highly mobile species) and thus, limited widespread applicability. Convincing fishers to avoid deep-water shark bycatch is also a challenge given the antagonistic interactions with sharks damaging the catch and fishing gear, while simultaneously a market incentive for shark liver oil remains. It highlights the need to proactively engage fishers and incentivize the mitigation of bycatch of deep-water sharks in Azorean waters.

ICES Journal of Marine Science, fsac178, DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fsac178


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