Approaching the “real” state of elasmobranch fisheries and trade: A case study from the Mediterranean
Elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates) are vulnerable taxa with 50% threatened with extinction, extirpations and steep population declines in the Mediterranean Sea. One of the major threats to elasmobranchs is fisheries exploitation of targeted or bycatch with a shocking 50-60% of landings being threatened species. Unfortunately, elasmobranchs are rarely or incorrectly identified to species level making official data less reliable. Despite efforts made by the European Union and organizations to reduce elasmobranch bycatch mortality, the goals are far from being achieved and conservation actions are urgently needed.
A new research study, led by iSea, published in the ‘Journal of Ocean and Coastal Management’ looks at addressing the real state of elasmobranch exploitation in the Mediterranean, with a deep insight into fisheries and trade in Greece. The aim of the study was to integrate a variety of data sources to quantify species-specific elasmobranches and potential mislabelling of elasmobranches within local fish markets in the area. This is the first species-specific study of the landings and trade of elasmobranches in Greece which we contributed alongside iSea, University of Protaras, University of Padova, OceanCare, University of Plymouth, International Hellenic University, University of Thessaloniki, Research Institute of Animal Science, Fisheries Institute of Kavala and Florida International University.
Ioannis Giovos, lead author of the study and researcher at The Marine and Environmental Research Lab MER, said: “This is a crucial study for the elasmobranch populations in Greece. Based on our findings, we suggest changes in the fisheries data collection that will increase the resolution of elasmobranchs catches reporting and which will support traceability and research to effectively boost their conservation. We will continue our effort in Greece, Cyprus and other regions with the aim to improve elasmobranch conservation in the Mediterranean.”
Read the full study here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2021.105743