Industrialised fishing overlaps threatened shark hotspots worldwide

Cape RADD Course Director Dylan Irion is part of a team of authors that recently published ground-breaking evidence in the journal Nature, on the overlap of large-scale fishing effort with shark movement.

The team of over 150 scientists from 26 countries collated movement data from nearly 2,000 satellite-tagged sharks. The authors find that on average 24% of the area used by sharks each month falls within the footprint of longline fisheries. For some commercially targeted species, this is as high as 76%. The white shark, perhaps one of the most protected species globally, shows an area of overlap exceeding 50% of its space use.

“Our results show major high seas fishing activities are currently centred on ecologically important shark hotspots worldwide”

Professor David Sims, who led the study as part of the Global Shark Movement Project based at the Marine Biological Association Laboratory in Plymouth, UK

Pelagic sharks that roam the open ocean are highly migratory, covering vast areas —including areas targeted by fisheries. The extent of habitat overlap with industrial fisheries has been difficult to determine until now.

blue shark being caught by longline vessel
Blue sharks caught by at Atlantic longline vessel, © MBA

“Some of the shark hotspots we studied may not be there in as little as a few years’ time if management measures are not put in place now to conserve the sharks and the habitats on which they depend”

Sims says of the findings in the paper.

The research is published online in Nature on 24th July 2019, Read the paper here.

Find out more about The Global Shark Movement Project.

Categories: News

Dylan Irion

Dylan is a marine scientist and Save Our Seas Foundation project leader, working towards a PhD that aims to unravel the drivers of white shark population dynamics in South Africa. He is a passionate freediver and SCUBA diver, and volunteers as a Sea Rescue crew member.


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