Extinction risk, reconstructed catches and management of chondrichthyan fishes in the Western Central Atlantic Ocean

Published on
23 June 2022

Extinction risk, reconstructed catches and management of chondrichthyan fishes in the Western Central Atlantic Ocean

Brendan S. Talwar, Brooke Anderson, Cristopher G. Avalos-Castillo, María del Pilar Blanco-Parra, Alejandra Briones, Diego Cardeñosa, John K. Carlson, Patricia Charvet, Charles F. Cotton, Zoe Crysler, Danielle H. Derrick, Michael R. Heithaus, Katelyn B. Herman, Olga Koubrak, David W. Kulka, Peter M. Kyne, Oscar M. Lasso-Alcalá, Paola A. Mejía-Falla, Jorge Manuel Morales-Saldaña, Beatriz Naranjo-Elizondo, Andrés F. Navia, Nathan Pacoureau, Juan C. Peréz-Jiménez, Riley A. Pollom, Cassandra L. Rigby, Eric V. C. Schneider, Nikola Simpson, Nicholas K. Dulvy


Chondrichthyan fishes are among the most threatened vertebrates on the planet because many species have slow life histories that are outpaced by intense fishing. The Western Central Atlantic Ocean, which includes the Greater Caribbean, is a hotspot of chondrichthyan biodiversity and abundance, but has been characterized by extensive shark and ray fisheries and a lack of sufficient data for effective management and conservation. To inform future research and management decisions, we analysed patterns in chondrichthyan extinction risk, reconstructed catches and management engagement in this region. We summarized the extinction risk of 180 sharks, rays and chimaeras, including 66 endemic and 14 near-endemic species, using contemporary IUCN Red List assessments. Over one-third (35.6%) were assessed as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered, primarily due to overfishing. Reconstructed catches from 1950 to 2016 peaked in 1992, then declined by 40.2% thereafter. The United States, Venezuela and Mexico were responsible for most catches in the region and hosted the largest proportions of the regional distributions of threatened species, largely due to having extensive coastal habitats in their Exclusive Economic Zones. The quantity and taxonomic resolution of fisheries landings data were poor in much of the region, and national-level regulations varied widely across jurisdictions. Deepwater fisheries represent an emerging threat, although many deepwater chondrichthyans currently have refuge beyond the depths of most fisheries. Regional collaboration as well as effective and enforceable management informed by more complete fisheries data, particularly from small-scale fisheries, are required to protect and recover threatened species and ensure sustainable fisheries.

Fish and Fisheries, 00, 1– 30. DOI: 10.1111/faf.12675


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