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Title: Shark news
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090496/00010
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Title: Shark news
Series Title: Shark news
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Ichthology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
Publisher: Ichthology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: January 1998
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Bibliographic ID: UF00090496
Volume ID: VID00010
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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S Search Fishes I S rS
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List of Articles
Shortage of Sharks at Chagos
Charles Anderson, Charles
Sheppard, Mark Spalding, and
Ron Crosby
Sarah Fowler and Jack Musick _
Shark Populations are Possibly
under Serious Threat in the .
Bijagos Archipelago (Biosphere
Reserve), Guinea Bissau, West .
P. Tous, M. Ducrocq, D. Bucal
and E. Feron *
Sharks and CITES the outcome Illustation O@ RL illiams 1993
From FAO Press Release
FAO Consultation on the Conservation and Management of Sharks ^
From FAO Press Release
Fishery for the Shortfin Mako Isurus oxyrinchus in Southern Brazil
Fabio E. S. Costa, Francisco M. S. Braga, Alberto F. Amorim and Carlos
A. Arfelli
Painted Ray Raja undulata Reproduction
Francisco Jos6 Pinto de la Rosa
Whale Shark Tagging, South Africa and Seychelles
Andrew Gifford
White Shark Now Protected
Sarah Fowler
Shoals of Capricorn Programme 1997/2000
Sarah Fowler
New Shark Group Homepage Address
First Meeting of the Brazilian Society for Elasmobranch Study (SBEEL),
July 1997
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Sergio Mattos
The Shark Trust
Sarah Fowler
ICES Study Group on Elasmobranch Fishes
Paddy Walker
Call for Earthwatch Proposals

American Fisheries Society Symposium on Long-lived Marine Animals
Fisheries Information News, Vol 3 no. 2, July 1997
Recent & Upcoming Publications
Sarah Fowler

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Shortage of sharks at Chagos

Charles Anderson, Charles Sheppard, Mark Spalding, and Ron
The Chagos Archipelago is an isolated group of atolls and reefs in the central Indian Ocean. The group
forms the southern end of the Laccadives-Maldives-Chagos atoll chain, and is centred at about 6S 720E.
There are five atolls, ten other shallow reef banks and submerged shoals and about 50 islands. The
islands are uninhabited, apart from Diego Garcia which houses a US military base. The Chagos
Archipelago is a possession of the United Kingdom, and is known officially as the British Indian Ocean
Territory (BIOT).

The grey reef shark Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos. One of five species of reef
shark formerly common in the Chagos Archipelago, but now only rarely encountered.
Photo (from the Red Sea) @ Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch.

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Access to the Chagos Archipelago is limited, partly because of the presence of the military base at Diego
Garcia, and partly because of its isolation. Chagos lies roughly 500 km south of the Maldives and over
1,500 km from Sri Lanka and Seychelles. Rarely visited, and off-limits to most people, it is supposedly one
of very few truly inaccessible places left in the whole world.

During the 1970s there were a series of three major diving expeditions to the Chagos Archipelago,
organised through the British military (the 1972, 1975 and 1978-1979 Joint Services Expeditions). Divers
on all three expeditions encountered large numbers of reef sharks (Bellamy 1979, Winterbottom, Emery
and Holm 1989, Sheppard 1990).

In 1996, a British scientific diving expedition organisedd by the Friends of the Chagos and Warwick

University) visited the Chagos, after a lapse of 17 years since the last similar expedition. It was expected
that comparable numbers of sharks would be seen in 1996 as had been seen in the 1970s, but this was
not the case.

The aim of this report is to document and, as far as possible, quantify a dramatic decline in reef shark
abundance in the Chagos.


Qualitative information about shark abundance in Chagos waters during the 1970s was obtained from
several expedition divers (see Acknowledgements). Charles Sheppard took part in the 1975 and 1978-
1979 expeditions, while Ron Crosby took part in the 1978-1979 expedition. All four authors took part in the
1996 expedition.

Quantitative information about shark abundance in Chagos was obtained from divers' logbook records.
Fairly consistent logbook records of shark sightings were kept during the 1975 expedition by Charles
Sheppard and during the 1978-1979 expedition by Ron Crosby. Although these data are not complete,
records were kept of most shark sightings, of all sightings of large numbers of sharks, and of unusual
occasions when no sharks were seen. It is assumed that one shark was seen on each dive for which
shark numbers were not recorded. Complete records of shark sightings during dives were kept by Charles
Anderson and Mark Spalding during the 1996 expedition.


The situation in the 1970s
Divers who visited the Chagos in the 1970s noted that reef sharks were very abundant. Sharks were seen
on almost every dive, a few (1-2) on reefs inside the atolls, more (5+) on outer atoll reefs, and most (50+)
on some particular sites such as submerged banks. This abundance of sharks at the Chagos in the 1970s
has been previously reported by Bellamy (1979) and Sheppard (1990). The sharks were sometimes over-
inquisitive, and a number of precautions had to be taken when diving. At different times these included:

Not free-swimming in midwater or at the surface over deep water.

Not entering the water for several minutes after arriving at a dive site, in order to give time
for sharks attracted by the sounds of the engine and anchor to disperse.

Anchoring dive boats in shallow water so that divers could ascend from the bottom and
exit the water quickly, spending as little time as possible in mid-water.

S Having a drop line from the anchored dive boats from which underwater cameras and
other equipment could be hung in order to distract sharks while divers got out of the water.

SHaving one diver in each party armed with a stick and assigned as a 'shark guard' to ward
off sharks that approached too closely.

STaking particular care when diving in the late afternoon (when sharks were especially
active and sometimes aggressive) and when diving on submerged banks (where sharks
were especially abundant).

Logbook records of shark sightings maintained by Charles Sheppard and Ron Crosby are summarised in
Table 1. Note that neither data set is complete. Records of shark sightings were not kept for over one third
of all dives; most of these were on reefs within the atoll lagoons where shark sightings were less common
than at other localities. It is assumed that an average of one shark was seen on each of these dives. This
assumption may distort the estimate of true shark abundance, but if it results in an overestimation this will
be of less than 0.4 sharks per dive at most. This assumption will also tend to reduce variance.

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Findings in 1996

It very quickly became apparent that reef sharks were no longer abundant in the Chagos. On most dives
none or only one or two sharks were seen. None of the 'anti-shark' precautions used during the 1970s
expeditions had to be employed. A total of 13 species of shark have been recorded from the Chagos to
date (Winterbottom and Anderson 1997), of which five species of shark were positively identified during
dives by the divers who kept records of shark sightings on the 1996 Chagos Expedition:

Tawny nurse shark Nebrius ferrugineus (Lesson, 1830)
Silvertip shark Carcharhinus albimarginatus (Rippell, 1837)
Grey reef shark Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos (Bleeker, 1856)
Blacktip reef shark Carcharhinus melanopterus (Quoy and Gaimard, 1824)
Whitetip reef shark Triaenodon obesus (Rippell, 1837)

A summary of 1996 shark sightings is provided in Table 2. Shark sightings in atoll channels are lumped in
the 'outside' category. A single dive on Victory Bank by the senior author produced no shark sightings; the
time spent (one hour) is lumped under Great Chagos Bank. Shark sighting rates (i.e. numbers of sharks
seen per hour) by location and species are given in Table 3.


From divers' logbook records, the shark sighting rate for the period 1975-1979 is estimated at roughly 4.2
0.3 sharks per dive. In contrast, the shark sighting rate in 1996 was only 0.60.1 sharks per dive (Table
1; Figure 1). If it is assumed that shark sightings are a reasonable index of shark abundance, then this
suggests that shark numbers in 1996 had been reduced to about one seventh (14%) of their numbers in
the 1970s.

Table 1. Summary of shark sightings by divers in the Chagos

Year 1975 1979 Subtotal 1996 1996 Subtotal
1975+1979 1996

No. dives 67.0 140.0 207.0 45.0 68.0 113.0
No. sharks 281.0 593.0 874.0 17.0 49.0 66.0
No. sharks/dive 4.2 4.2 4.2 0.4 0.7 0.6
1.96 SE (shks/dive) 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1

The data on which these results are based are subject to some difficulties of interpretation. In the three
sample years, dives were not made at exactly the same locations (although they were made at the same
season). This may have caused some slight error, although it is not believed to have caused any obvious
bias. The assumptions made to account for incomplete data sets from the 1970s are noted above and are
another potential source of error. However, the fact that the estimates of shark sighting rates by divers for
1975 and 1979 are in such good agreement does suggest that they are not without value. Furthermore,
although these problems may affect the precise estimates of shark abundance, they do not disguise the
fact that there has been a substantial decrease in shark sightings.

Two further potential sources of error relate to consistency of dive length and diver vigilance. For the
former an overview of log-book records suggests that these were generally comparable between the three
years. Similarly, it is the authors' opinion that diver vigilance would have been broadly comparable in all
three years. All observations were made by experienced divers, all of whom had specific tasks to perform
during most dives, but who nevertheless had sufficient time and interest to scan the surrounding waters at
regular intervals.

Table 2. Summary of Chagos shark sightings (numbers) by divers

in 1996

Salomon Salomon Peros Ban. Peros Ban. Great Diego Gar
(inside) (outside) (inside) (outside) Chagos B. (outside)

N. ferrugineus 0 5 2 3 5 1 16
C. albimarginatus 0 2 0 2 0 0 4
C. amblyrhynchos 0 16 3 12 7 0 38
C. melanopterus 1 3 2 1 0 0 7
T. obesus 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Total 1 27 7 18 12 1 66
Time (hrs) 19 29 28 22 28 1 127

Table 3. Summary of Chagos shark sighting rates (sharks/hour) by
divers in 1996

Salomon Salomon Peros Ban. Peros Ban. Great Diego Gar Total
(inside) (outside) (inside) (outside) Chagos B. (outside)

N. ferrugineus 0 0.17 0.07 0.14 0.18 1.0 0.13
C. albimarginatus 0 0.07 0 0.09 0 0 0.03
C. amblyrhynchos 0 0.55 0.11 0.55 0.25 0 0.30
C. melanopterus 0.05 0.10 0.07 0.05 0 0 0.06
T. obesus 0 0.03 0 0 0 0 0.01
Total 0.05 0.93 0.25 0.82 0.43 1.0 0.51
Time (hrs) 19 29 28 22 28 1 127

Although only semi-quantitative, this brief study does show the potential value of selected diver logbook
records as a means of gathering historical data. Divers regularly record sightings of large pelagics and
other 'interesting' species. With strict assessment and control, this method could be used more widely to
assess changes in abundance of some species where no other quantitative records are available.

The great decrease in shark sightings by divers between the 1970s and 1996 is believed to reflect a real
decrease in shark numbers. This is almost certainly due to fishing. Prior to the 1980s there had been very
limited shark fishing in the Chagos (Sheppard 1990). Since then, an agreement between the governments
of Britain and Mauritius (which has a political claim on the Chagos) has allowed Mauritian reef fishermen
to operate in the archipelago under licence. These fishermen visit the Chagos during the rough season
around Mauritius, i.e. in the middle of the year. They apparently target finfish, but must also catch some

In addition, Sri Lankan fishermen visit the Chagos illegally. Two Sri Lankan fishing boats from Negombo
were arrested by the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) fisheries patrol vessel at the end of January
1996. Both had large catches of sharks on board (pers. obs., McDonnell 1996). The vessels were
impounded. Fishing gear was seized from two other vessels (McDonnell 1996). In Sri Lanka there is
strong local demand for shark meat, and of course shark fins are much sought after as an export

Although all species of reef shark seem to have been affected by this fishing activity, they do not appear tc
have been affected equally. The silvertip shark Carcharhinus albimarginatus was the most abundan
reef shark seen in the 1970s (Winterbottom, Emery and Holm 1989, R. Winterbottom pers. comm. April
1996). In 1996 it had been reduced to fourth in order of abundance (Table 3). This disproportionate
decrease in silvertip shark numbers might be a reflection of this species' more inquisitive and/or
aggressive nature (compared to the other common reef species at Chagos) making it more vulnerable to
fishing mortality.

In most parts of the world, reef shark populations have been reduced to a fraction of their original sizes.
There are very few locations where shark numbers remain high. Ironically, one of the few is Bikini Atoll in
the Marshall Islands (Curtsinger 1995) where fishing has not been carried out for 50 years following
nuclear tests. At Bikini Atoll, numbers of reef sharks are presumably at a 'natural' level that would have
been the norm for most similar sites throughout the Indo-Pacific for millions of years until this century.

Until the 1996 Expedition it had been thought that the Chagos too had escaped the worst effects of the
worldwide collapse of shark stocks, as a result of its isolation. However, it is clear that 'isolated' is a
relative term. For many modern Indian Ocean fishermen Chagos is no longer seen as a remote location,
but rather as a prime fishing ground. It is also clear that if the coral reefs of the Chagos are to be
preserved in a pristine condition, as many hope, greater efforts will have to be made to control fishing of
the reefs' top predators.


The 1996 Chagos Expedition was organised by The Friends of the Chagos, London. We are most grateful
to John Griffiths, Peter Ormerod, Don Phillips, Ralph Rayner, Ann Sheppard and Rick Winterbottom for
providing anecdotal information about sharks in the Chagos during the 1970s.


Bellamy, D. 1979. Half of Paradise. Cassell, London. Curtsinger, B. 1995. Close encounters with
gray reef sharks. National Geographic 1/95: 45-67.

Curtsinger, B. 1995. Close encounters with gray reef sharks. National Geographic 1/95: 45-67.

McDonnell, A. 1996. BIOT fishing. Chagos News (Newsletter of the Friends of the Chagos, London) 7:

Sheppard, C.R.C. 1990. Chagos. In: Wells, S., and Sheppard, C.R.C. Coral Reefs of the World. Vol.
2. Indian Ocean. pp. 37-46.

Winterbottom, R., and Anderson, R.C. 1997. A revised checklist of the epipelagic and shore
fishes of the Chagos Archipelago, central Indian Ocean. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute
of Ichthyology 66: 1-28.

Winterbottom, R., Emery, A.R., and Holm, E. 1989. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the
Chagos Archipelago, central Indian Ocean. Royal Ontario Museum, Life Sciences Contributions, 145: 1-

R.C. Andersor
Marine Research Sectior
H. Whitewave,
Male, Maldives

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Sarah Fowler and Jack Musick, Co- *

It has been another extremely busy six months since preparing the last issue of Shark News, and we
apologise for the long wait between publications. This issue is also a bit shorter than usual, due partly to
difficulties obtaining funds for printing and distribution (suggestions for potential sponsors for the next
issue would be most welcome).

As the last issue was going to press, we were about to leave for the two-week CITES meeting in
Zimbabwe, in June, where sharks were among the more controversial issues up for debate. The results of
this meeting are described on page 5. While disappointing in some respects, the outcome has resulted in
considerable Shark Specialist Group (SSG) activity associated with the FAO Consultation on the
conservation and management of sharks. Members of the SSG are participating in the regional workshops
(see below) which are being held in advance of the main Technical Working Group meeting scheduled to
take place in April 1998 in Japan, before the main Technical Consultation planned for October or
November 1998.

The CITES meeting was followed almost immediately in July by the international Seminar and Workshop
in Sabah, Malaysia, marking the end of the UK Darwin Initiative-funded project on Elasmobranch
Biodiversity, Conservation and Management, headed by SSG Co-chair Sarah Fowler. This was attended
by nearly 60 participants from 14 countries, including many SSG members, with many of the overseas
participants funded by a World Bank Small Grant Program award. The proceedings of this meeting are
currently in preparation.

The following month saw Co-chair Jack Musick chairing a two-day American Fisheries Society symposium
on Long-lived Marine Animals during the AFS annual meeting in Monterey, California. In addition to
papers on shark fisheries and population genetics, species covered included sea turtles, groupers and
other K-selected teleosts, cetaceans, seals and long-lived marine molluscs. These proceedings will also
be published in due course.

Back in Europe, Sarah Fowler was heavily involved in the preparation for the September launch of the
newly established charity, the Shark Trust (UK member of the European Elasmobranch Association). Both il
of these organizations are being run from Sarah's office for the next two years.

Preparations then began for the 5th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference, held in Noumea, New Caledonia, in
November. This was attended by several SSG and some TRAFFIC network members, many of whom
were assisted financially by IUCN funds allocated to the work of the SSG by the US government. We were
therefore able to hold a Shark Specialist Group meeting (the minutes of which will be available soon,
including the revised and agreed SSG Terms of Reference and membership policy) and contribute to the
first of several two-day regional workshops supporting the FAO consultation process (see page 5). The
Noumea meeting covered the Indo-Pacific region, and was followed by December meetings in Florida and
Monterey for the western North Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific regions.

Meanwhile, back in the office, the IUCN Species Survival Commission's membership package has finally
arrived. This has enabled us to begin the process of reconstituting the membership of the SSG for the
current triennium, which ends in 2000. Regional Vice-Chairs are currently reviewing their membership
lists, deleting inactive members, confirming those who should be reappointed, and identifying new
members. Once this process has been completed, SSG membership invitations will go out, along with a
complete list of the Shark Specialist Group membership for the next few years. Active members will
receive their invitations to rejoin shortly.

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Shark populations are possibly under serious threat in -h
the Bijagos archipelago (Biosphere Reserve), Guinea
Bissau, West Africa

P. Tous1, M. Ducrocq1, D. Bucal2 and E.
Feron ?

In the Bijagos archipelago of Guinea Bissau (declared a Biosphere Reserve in April 1996), sharks and
other cartilaginous fish have never been the target of sustained fishing by the small-scale indigenous
fishermen. The unavailability of sophisticated equipment, the absence of a local market for the product -
and traditional beliefs (these animals are still considered by the Bijagos to hold mysterious powers and are
consistently represented in religious activities in the form of masks, dances, and wall paintings) had made
the archipelago a safe breeding ground for cartilaginous fish.

The growth of the shark fin market in the region over the last decade, for export to the far east, has
prompted specialist fishermen from neighboring Senegal and Guinea, or from further away in Sierra
Leone and even Ghana, to come to the archipelago to catch cartilaginous fish. These professionals are -
well-organised, and use sophisticated and efficient sailing and catching equipment. Highly specialised,
they only harvest the fins, which are sun-dried or smoke dried on island beaches, and discard the rest of
their catch. On occasions, large quantities of rotting sharks have been found on beaches.

Fishing Pressure on the BIJagos Archipelago (BIosphere Reserve)

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In the absence of consistent scientific data on the existing populations and because of the poor national

capacity for law enforcement, the increased pressure that these new activities have caused has raised
considerable concern for the sustainability of this industry, the loss of national resources from Guinea
Bissau and the archipelago in particular, and the survival/conservation of the target species. Indeed, all
actors present in the archipelago seem to agree on the fact that the populations of cartilaginous fish have
undergone significant modifications over the last five years or so.

The IUCN Guinea Bissau Programme, in partnership with the national Centro de Investigagco Pesqueira
Applicada (Centre of Applied Fisheries Research), organised a two-month mission to set up a monitoring
mechanism for the cartilaginous fish of the archipelago. All of the seven private game fishing operations
who rely heavily on shark fishing for their business and some of the artesanal fishermen participated in
this preliminary undertaking.

Initial surveys provided some valuable yet fragmented information. For example, in the case of the great
hammerhead shark Sphyrna mokarran, catches of juveniles seem to be increasingly frequent and
most of the adults caught are pregnant females. The bull shark Carcharinus leucas and the milk shark
Rhizopronodon acutus seem to be more frequently caught than before. For the blacktip shark
Carcharhinus limbatus, catches of adults, particularly of pregnant females, have become exceptional
and juveniles of birth size constitute over one third of the small sharks found during the survey of fishing
catches at local harbours. The populations of guitar fish Rhinobatos rhinobatos and R. cemiculus,
up to now the main targets of the specialised fishing teams, seem to have diminished substantially.

Although it is still too early to draw definite conclusions for all the above species, the situation seems to be
clearer and more alarming for others. The three species of saw-fish Pristis microdon, P. pectinata
and P. pristis have not been reported at all for several years and it is thought that the genus is locally

The economic significance of this sector of activity is substantial. Indeed, on the basis of the declared
catches of the industrial fishing operators and past surveys of the artesanal fishing sector, together with
calculations of the profitability threshold of specialised ships, it is possible to estimate the overall catches
of cartilaginous fish within the Bissau Guinean EEZ to circa 25,000 tons per year. This represents a yearly
production of around 250 tons of dried fins exported from the archipelago to neighboring countries. The
price paid for this product by traders in the region varies between US$50 and US$80 per kg, depending on
the species. The total turnover of this trade would be of around US$16 million per year, yielding no benefit
at all to Guinea Bissau and no return to the monitoring of the status of the resource base.

At regional level, Mauritania is also witnessing increased pressure on cartilaginous fish. In particular, the
local Imraguen fishermen traditionally specialising in white mullet Mugil curema are being forced by the
diminishing stocks to convert to other activities, including the catching of cartilaginous fish.

To follow up on the results of the mission, IUCN Guinea Bissau and the Fondation Nationale du Banc
d'Arguin in Mauritania, in collaboration with the national institutions in their respective countries, are
currently initiating a joint three-year research programme for the monitoring of the shark populations in the
Banc d'Arguin National Park and the Bijagos archipelago Biosphere Reserve. It is expected that this
programme will result, in 1999, in the formulation of national conservation plans and policies within the
framework of new IUCN West Africa Regional Marine Conservation network.

Eric M. Feron
Conseiller Scientifique et Technique Principal
IUCN Guinee Bissau
AP 23, 1031 Bissau Codex, Guinee Bissau, Afrique
Tel. : + 245 20 12 30 Fax : + 245 20 11 68
Article submitted July 1997

1IUCN Guinea Bissau, AP 23 Bissau Codex 1031, Guinea Bissau. Tel: + 245 20 12 30. Fax: + 245 20 11
Email: iucn.bi@sol.gtelecom.gw
2CIPA CP 102, Bissau, Guinea Bissau. Tel: +245 21 16 95. Fax: +245 20 11 57.

Editor's note: West African regional meeting on coastal zone
management, Bissau, 10-15 November 1997

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A paper on exploitation of sharks in the West African region, with particular emphasis on Guinea-Bissau
(see above), was presented by Philippe Tous of IUCN Guinea-Bissau in Bissau in November. Although a
representative of the Shark Specialist Group was invited to attend the African meeting, this was
unfortunately impossible due to the overlap of this meeting with the Shark Specialist Group meetings and
workshop in Noumea, New Caledonia. We may be able to report on the African meeting in a future issue
of Shark News. In the absence of consistent scientific data on the existing populations and because of
the poor national capacity for law enforcement, the increased pressure that these new activities have
caused has raised considerable concern for the sustainability of this industry, the loss of national
resources from Guinea Bissau and the archipelago in particular, and the survival/conservation of the target
species. Indeed, all actors present in the archipelago seem to agree on the fact that the populations of
cartilaginous fish have undergone significant modifications over the last five years or so.


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Sharks and CITES the outcome

The following subjects were debated at the 10th meeting of the Parties to the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species, in Zimbabwe in June 1997. (The last issue of Shark News (9) gives the
background to the Conference's discussions on international trade in sharks and related species.)

1. The CITES Animals Committee report Biological and Trade Status of
Sharks -
Shark Specialist Group co-chair Dr John Musick presented an intervention at the CITES meeting on behalf
of this report, which was adopted in full by the Parties. Its detailed recommendations were set out in full in
the last issue of Shark News (9) and are not copied again here. They mainly concerned the need for
improved species-specific fishery, trade, and biological data by all Parties and UN FAO, and an increase *
in research and management efforts for elasmobranchs. Many of those relating to FAO's work programme
have already been taken up (see below), although the Shark Group is extremely concerned over the
apparent absence of the preparation of the batoid catalogue from the current FAO work programme.

The concluding recommendation was for the CITES Secretariat to communicate the relevant
recommendations to FAO and other management and/or research organizations and establish liaison with
these bodies to monitor implementation. The new information derived from their research and monitoring
programmes will be submitted to the 11th Conference of the Parties at the end of the century. ^

2. Proposal to list sawfish on Appendix 1
This proposal for the listing of all species of sawfishes (Pristiformes) on Appendix I (which would prohibit
international trade in the group) was unsuccessful. The status of sawfish populations is considered to be
threatened worldwide, because of their extreme vulnerability to bycatch at all ages in net fisheries.
Additionally, their high value fins and saws do enter international trade. However, population and trade
data are scarce. The Conference considered that trade in sawfish parts was not the major factor driving
the population decline and that an Appendix I listing was not warranted.

3. Marine Fish Species Working Group
The US proposal for the establishment of a Working Group to prepare an analysis of implementation i i
concerns associated with the inclusion in Appendix II of marine fish species subject to large-scale
harvesting and international trade, and to develop recommendations for the 11th Conference, was
defeated after hot debate.

FAO activities arising from the CITES resolution
FAO commenced work on the collection of biological and trade data on sharks following the 9th CITES
meeting in 1994. A special enquiry was undertaken to countries on shark fisheries in the autumn of 1996,
and a consultant reviewed all available biological and shark fishery data. Additionally, FAO is reviewing
the trade status of sharks and shark parts; has commissioned a study on species identification using DNA
analysis, and the preparation of case studies on shark fishery management; and is updating the 1984

shark species catalogue and its technical paper on shark utilisation.

Finally, the 1997 Commission on Fisheries meeting in FAO HQ in Rome proposed to organise an expert
consultation with Japan and the US on conservation and management of shark populations.

The above section was extracted from Visser, T. In press. FAO Initiatives for
elasmobranch fisheries research and monitoring. In: Proceedings of meeting on
Elasmobranch biodiversity, conservation and management, Sabah, July 1997.

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FAO consultation on the conservation and management
of sharks

In 1994, the Ninth Conference of Contracting Parties of the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) adopted a Resolution on the Biological and Trade
Status of Sharks (Conf. 9.17), requesting inter alia that

1. FAO and other international fisheries management organizations establish programmes to collect
and assemble the necessary biological and trade data on shark species; and
2. all nations utilising and trading specimens of shark species to cooperate with FAO and other
international fisheries management organizations.

The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries adopted by the FAO Conference in November 1995 and
the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action of December 1995 both call for the conservation of biological
diversity and the sustainable use of its component species, as well as the minimisation of waste and
discards. In FAO, activities which intend to promote these objectives are in progress under a project
funded by the Government of Japan. It contributes inter alia to the study of the biological and trade status
of sharks.

At its session in 1997, the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) suggested that FAO organise, in
collaboration with Japan and the United States, using extra-budgetary funds, a consultation of experts to
develop and propose guidelines leading to a Plan of Action for Shark Conservation and Management. The
Tenth Meeting of the CITES Contracting Parties, which met in Harare, Zimbabwe, in June 1997, received
the news of this initiative with great appreciation.

Preparations are underway for convening a Technical Working Group (TWG) of experts to be followed by
an open-ended intergovernmental Technical Consultation. The ultimate aims of this endeavour are: (1) to
determine the specific requirements for sustainable global and regional management of shark
species; (2) to develop guidelines for such management; and, (3) to develop a Plan of Action
aimed at promoting the widespread use of these guidelines by appropriate management bodies and
arrangements (at national, and/or regional, and/or international levels).

The TWG, scheduled to meet in April 1998 in Japan, will discuss draft guidelines and a draft plan of action
to be submitted to the Technical Consultation scheduled for October or November 1998 in Rome. The
results of the Consultation will be submitted for adoption to FAO's Committee on Fisheries scheduled to
meet in early 1999.

It is expected that the Plan of Action would be addressed to Member Nations and to international fisheries
management organizations or arrangements. It is foreseen that it would contain strategies aiming:

4 to strengthen the availability of information on shark stocks and shark fisheries globally;
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to indicate priorities for how to allocate public resources to secure the minimum, essential
information required for management of shark fisheries;
S to develop a global approach (for national governments, regional and international
management organizations) in addressing global priority issues in conservation and
management of sharks, including the reduction of discards where practicable; and

to monitor the implementation of shark fishery management.

Extracted from FAO Press release. For more information contact
Mr Hideki Tsubata, Fishery Agency of Japan, email: tsbthdk@s.affrc.go.jp
Mr Dean Swanson, US National Marine Fishery Service, email: dean.swanson@noaa.
or Mr Erhard Ruckes, Fishery Industries Divison, FAO, Italy, email: erhard.ruckes@fao.

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Fishery for the shortfin mako Isurus oxyrinchus in
southern Brazil

Fabio E. S. Costa, Francisco M. S. Braga, Alberto F. Amorim and Carlos A.

The shortfin mako Isurus oxyrinchus is one of the most common shark species on the Brazilian coast
and in other parts of the world, and among the main species of sharks caught commercially in the North
Atlantic, Pacific and Brazilian coast. Nevertheless, there are few studies on the shortfin mako fishery.

Shortfin mako Isurus oxyrinchus with parasitic copepods streaming off
dorsal fin.
Photo: @ Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch.

The main fishing effort on this species is by longliners. Based on the same data sources used in the
present paper, Amorim & Arfelli (1992) and Amorim et al. (in press) found that the main species of sharks
caught by Santos (SP) longliners were: Prionace glauca (blue shark), Isurus oxyrinchus (shortfin
mako), Alopias superciliosus (bigeye thresher), Sphyrna lewini, S. zygaena (hammerhead
sharks), and 11 species of Carcharhinus. From 1971 to 1975, sharks represented 13.5% of the total
yield of these boats (10 t/year). This percentage reached 51% of the total catch in 1985.

The mako shark fisheries by Santos (SP) longliners (operating in the area 180 -330S / 350-510W) from
1971 to 1990 were studied. The annual catch in dressed weight (without head, gut, gill and fins) fluctuated
from 13.3 t in 1975 to 138.3 t in 1990, and average weight of sharks ranged from 41 kg (1984) to 51.2 kg
(1977). Fishing effort has increased from 430 thousand hooks (in 1972) to 3 million (in 1990). Catch per
unit effort (CPUE, number per thousand hooks) ranged between 0.6 (1982) and 1.8 (1988). The lowest
monthly cumulative catch occurred in February (45 t and 869 fishes) and the highest in November (116t
and 2,643 fishes). The monthly cumulative fishing effort ranged from 1.3 million (February) to 2.7 million
(November). CPUE ranged from 0.4 (January) to 1.1 (September) fish per thousand hooks. From April to
November, catches in weight and number were higher, but the average weight of sharks decreased.
(^197) Fihig ffrtha icrasdiro 40 hosad oos in192)to3 ilio (n99).Cachpe

The highest annual frequencies of pectoral-caudal length were in the classes between 90 and 150 cm,
and mainly from 110 to 130 cm. The length-frequency distribution of pectoral-caudal length in the period
1971-1990 showed high frequencies in the classes from 80 to 150 cm, with the highest in the classes of
110, 120 and 130 cm. The largest amplitude of pectoral-caudal length was seen in the fourth quarter,
ranging from 40 to 250 cm. Therefore, the highest frequencies were concentrated in the length classes of
90 to 150 cm in all quarters.

The pectoral-caudal length (Lc)/dressed weight (Dw) was: Dw = 5.69.10-5.Lc2 85 (r2 = 0.847). The
relationship total length/pectoral-caudal length was: Lc = 0.277.TL1 15 (r2 = 0.997) (Figure 2).

Pratt and Casey (1983) give the average total length at maturity of female shortfin mako as about 258 cm.
According to Compagno (1984) females become mature at 280 cm, while males mature at 195 cm total
length. The corresponding pectoral-caudal length (Lc) was estimated to be over 160 cm for females, and
about 120 cm for males, based on the total length/pectoral-caudal length relationship. The highest number
of shortfin mako caught in the period 1971-1990 was in the length classes from 90 to 150 cm (Lc). So
more than half of the total individuals caught were immature.

The increasing trend of catches of shortfin mako from 1971 to 1990, was due to a similar increase in the
fishing effort.

The length-frequency distribution showed an occurrence of individuals from newborn stage to adults (near
maximum length). Nevertheless, the higher abundance of small sharks indicates that the shortfin makos
caught by Santos longliners are mainly young individuals. The fact that this fleet catches mainly immature
individuals, but that the average length did not show a decreasing trend, probably indicates that this
fishery catches only part of the shortfin mako population.

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Figure 1. CPUE (number/thousand hooks) of shortfin mako caught by longliners off Southern Brazil, from
1971 to 1990.
a: annual data.
b : monthly data.


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120 Dw = 5.691 05'"Lc2 /
100 Rz O0,E475

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Figure 2.
a: Dressed weight (Dw) I pectoral-caudal (Lc) relationship.
b: Total length (TL) / pectoral-caudal (Lc) relationship.

The distribution of the average size of the individuals along the year, showed that the period from July to
September corresponded to the period of the fishery recruitment of the shortfin mako, for the area under


Amorim, A.F., and Arfelli, C.A. 1992. The shark fishery in south and southeastern Brazil.
Chondros 3(3): 1-2.

Amorim, A.F., Braga, F.M.S., Fagundes, L., Costa, F.E.S., and Arfelli, C.A. In press.
The evolution of tuna fishery in Santos-Sao Paulo, Southern Brazil (1971-95) In: Collective Volume of
Scientific Papers. ICCAT, Madrid.

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species
known to date. FAO Fish. Synop., Rome, FAO, v.4, n.125 (parts 1 and 2). 665 pp.

Pratt Jr., H.L. and Casey, J.G. 1983. Age and growth of the shortfin mako, Isurus oxyrinchus,
using four methods. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 40(11): 1944-1957.

Summarised from: Costa, F.E.S., Braga, F.M.S., Amorim, A.F., and Arfelli, C.A. 1996. Fishery analysis on
shortfin mako, Isurus oxyrinchus, off Southeast and South of Brazil (Elasmobranchii, Lamnidae). Arq.
Cien. Mar. Fortaleza, 30(1-2): 5-12.

Fabio Edir dos Santos Costa
UNESP Departamento de Zoologia
Av. 24-A, n. 1515 Bela Vista, 13506-900 Rio Claro (SP) Brazil
Email: cbmansur@linkway.com.br


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Painted ray Raja undulata reproduction -

Francisco Jose Pinto de la Rosa, *
Sea Life Centre,
Benalmadena, Spain.

A pair of adult painted rays were observed copulating in the Benalmadena Sea Life Centre in Spain on 23
December 1996. The female started laying eggs 25 days after mating, on 17 January 1997, and continued
to lay until 4 April, by which time she had produced 88 eggs. The first 14 cm (TL) skate hatchling appeared *
on April 18, 91 days after being laid, and 116 days after copulation.

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Whale shark tagging, South Africa and Seychelles

The most recent report on the Shark Research
Institute's (SA) whale shark tagging programme
covers the two years from May 1995 to April 1997.
During this period, a further 125 whale sharks were
tagged, 109 off the coastline of southern Mozambique
(28 of these within one 48- hour period) and 16 off the
coastline of northern KwaZulu/Natal. A total of 158
sharks have been tagged since the start of the SRI
programme in December 1993. There have been ten
re-sightings of tagged sharks, all within days or no
more than a month after tagging, and all within 7 km of
their original tagging location.

This successful record has been considerably assisted
by the acquisition of a microlight by the project. Many
aerial surveys have taken place, recording cetaceans
and turtles as well as elasmobranchs, noting daily Whale shark Rhincodon typus and diver during
onshore and offshore movements of whale sharks, tagging week in the Seychelles, November 1996.
and helping the tagging teams to locate sharks for Photo: Lawson Wood.

There are plans to attach a satellite tag onto a whale shark during the 1997/98 season, following a
practice run with a dummy tag.

The SRI whale shark project assisted in the establishment of a tagging operation in the Seychelles in
November 1996. Twenty-three whale sharks were tagged over a seven-day period in collaboration with
the Seychelles Underwater Centre.

The project's public awareness and educational programme has been extended with the introduction of
experimental "whale shark weekends" in association with local dive tour operators in southern
Mozambique. This enables divers to swim with the whale shark after it has been tagged by a member of
the project team. Demand for participation in these weekends is extremely high. Divers are also offered
the opportunity to 'adopt' a whale shark, with income from adoption fees being used to finance further

The project also monitors whale shark strandings and collects tissue samples.

For more information contact Andrew Gifford,
Shark Research Institute, P.O. Box 510, Botha's Hill,
Natal 3660, South Africa. Tel/fax: (031) 701 9842
or visit the SRI web page: http://www.sharks.org
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of Australia...

In October 1997 the Fisheries Minister for Western Australia, Mr House, announced the proposed
enactment of legislation to ban both commercial and recreational catches of this species in the State. This
followed moves in June to list the shark as a commercially protected species, which came into force at the
beginning of October. Recreational protection should have been in force by the end of November.
Commercial shark fishermen will be developing a code of conduct for handling great white sharks caught

,h4 o fL .. -...

Great white shark Carcharodon carcharias. Photo: Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch.

Victoria is now the only state within the normal Australian range of the white shark which has still to
introduce specific white shark protection measures, but it is considered likely to follow suit within the next
few months.

In December, the great white shark and grey nurse (sand tiger, ragged tooth) shark were listed as
Vulnerable under the Endangered Species Protection Act. The taking or killing of these species is no
longer permitted in Australian Commonwealth waters (which extend from three nautical miles offshore to
the edge of the continental shelf or the Australian Fishing Zone, whichever is greater). Anyone wishing to
capture a great white shark or grey nurse shark in Commonwealth waters for scientific purposes must
apply for a permit.
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... US Atlantic and Gulf waters ...

As reported in the last issue of Shark News (9:10), a new rule for Atlantic shark fisheries implemented
in April 1997 prohibited directed commercial fishing for white sharks in US federal waters (although
recreational catch-and-release only fishing is still permitted).

Other species protected from all directed fishing in the Atlantic were the whale shark, basking shark, sand
tiger and bigeye sand tiger.

... and receiving improved protection in California

A new law prohibiting the deliberate take of white sharks in Californian state waters came into force in
August 1997, repealing the 1993 state law which provided temporary protection for the species.
Exceptions are made for scientific and educational research and for incidental catch in selected net
fisheries. The bill was sponsored by the Centre for Marine Conservation, the Point Reyes Bird
Observatory, and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, and supported by over two
dozen conservation, fishing, surfing and scientific organizations.

Compiled by Sarah Fowler, with thanks to several
Shark Group members who provided information and updates.

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Shoals of Capricorn Programme 1997/2000 --


This exciting new marine research initiative was launched in 1997, the International Year of the Reef. It is
a multidisciplinary research project headed by the UK Royal Society and the Royal Geographical Society
at the invitation of the governments of Mauritius and the Seychelles. The Programme aims to carry out a
detailed investigation of the marine resources of the islands, banks and shoals of the Mascarene Plateau, *
Indian Ocean, over the next few years. More than 100 international scientists, including large numbers of
divers and participants from host nations, will collaborate over data collection, analysis and interpretation
of findings to assist in conservation and marine resource planning. The key features and processes
controlling the geology, oceanography, biology and archaeology of the region will be explored. Scientific
objectives include inventory of marine biodiversity and investigations of bank fisheries and sustainability.
Interested parties may become involved by submitting a research proposal or contacting a discipline area
leader to suggest collaborative studies. Voluntary posts overseas are also open to individuals with specific
relevant skills. For more information, please contact the Shoals of Capricorn Programme by fax: (+ 44) (0)
171 591 3031 or email: shoals@rgs.org -

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New Shark Group homepage

Electronic versions of former issues of Shark News can be viewed at this site. Shark Specialist Group
members are invited to submit additional material by email to the webpage editor at
gburgess@flmnh.ufl.edu or on disks by mail to the Florida Museum of Natural History, University
of Florida, Museum Road, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA. Hard copies, if only available in this format, may
also be submitted and will be scanned. Authors will be duly credited. Colour photographs, figures and
other graphics may be submitted electronically or as slides or prints.

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First Meeting of the Brazilian Society for Elasmobranch
Study (SBEEL), July 1997


The First Meeting of the Sociedade Brasileira para o Estudo de Elasmobranquios took place in Ilheus,
State of Bahia, from July 27 to August 2, 1997. The official languages of the meeting were Portuguese,
Spanish and English. There were about 70 participants from Brazil and neighboring countries, including
visiting Shark Specialist Group members Dr Samuel Gruber, Dr Jose Castro and Dr Merry Camhi from the
USA, Dr Terry Walker from Australia, and Dr Roberto Menni from Argentina. Activities included *
workshops, panel discussions and contributed papers (oral and posters). Topics covered age
determination in sharks, the conservation of elasmobranchs, international cooperation in the study and *
management of fisheries, behaviour, reproductive migrations, chondrichthyan communities in the south-
western Atlantic Ocean, future research priorities, shark attack, and biology and fisheries.

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The Shark Trust -

Sarah .

The Shark Trust was established in 1997 to promote the study, management and conservation of sharks,
skates and rays. It is the UK member organisation of the European Elasmobranch Association (EEA,
established in 1996), all of whose member bodies share similar aims and will collaborate to achieve these
in national, European and international waters.

The Trust is calling for: the management of shark, skate and ray fisheries; reduction of bycatch in other
fisheries; increased research effort into their biology and ecology to support the development of
management and conservation strategies; the conservation and management of areas crucial for breeding
and migrating sharks and the survival of young fish; promotion of international conservation and research
initiatives, including tag and release programmes; legal protection for threatened species under national
legislation and international conventions (for migratory species); and increased public awareness and
concern for sharks and rays. It aims to join forces with other groups concerned with chondrichthyan fish
conservation issues. These include commercial fishermen, recreational sea anglers, divers, yachtsmen,
and all those who want to ensure the future survival of these animals.

The Trust is a registered wildlife charity (No. 1064185). It receives grant aid from the UK conservation
agencies (Scottish Natural Heritage, English Nature and Countryside Council for Wales) and from WWF-
UK to support its work and that of the EEA. The Shark Trust also directly supports the EEA by providing its
main secretariat. Existing individual supporters of the EEA will be asked to transfer their subscriptions to
the Shark Trust or to their national member body of the EEA (if any). All are welcome to join the Trust
(individual annual subscription is GB 15.00, 25.00 for a family).

The Trust was launched with a week-long exhibition, including displays on research work covering the
biology and ecology of sharks and rays, held at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, UK,
September 1997. The first annual open meeting of the Trust is being held at the London Aquarium, UK, in
April 1998.

For more information, please contact the Shark Trust, 36 Kingfisher Court, Hambridge Road, Newbury,
Berkshire, RG14 5SJ, UK. Fax: (+44) (0)1635 550230, email: sharktrust@naturebureau.co.uk or T
visit the web page at http://ds.dial.pipex.com/sharktrust

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ICES Study Group on Elasmobranch Fishes


The ICES Study Group on Elasmobranch Fishes met in Copenhagen at the end of May 1997. It has
produced a report covering aspects of the biology of deep-water sharks, the blue shark, spurdog and a
case study on the population dynamics of skates and rays in the North Sea. The layout and text of three
posters were presented, which will aid in the identification of skates, skate wings and deep-water sharks. *
The report also contains an Appendix covering recent initiatives in elasmobranch research and
conservation. This report was presented at the ICES Annual Science Meeting in Baltimore, USA, in
September 1997 and reported to ICES ACFM (Advisory Committee for Fisheries Management) in
October. The Study Group will work by correspondence in 1998 and will present the ensuing report at the
1998 Annual Science Meeting, to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, in September of that year.

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Call for Earthwatch proposals


The Center for Field Research invites proposals for the 1998-1999 field grants funded by its affiliate
Earthwatch. Earthwatch is an international, non-profit organisation dedicated to sponsoring field research
and promoting public education in the sciences and humanities. Past projects have been successfully
fielded in, but are not limited to, the following disciplines: animal behaviour, biodiversity, ecology, *
ornithology, endangered species, entomology, marine mammalology, ichthyology, herpetology, marine
ecology, and resource and wildlife management. Interdisciplinary projects are especially encouraged, as is
multinational collaboration. Members of the Shark Specialist Group have successfully used Earthwatch
volunteers for assistance with their research projects.

Information can be found at http:llwww.earthwatch.orglcfrlcfr.html, or you can contact The
Center for Field Research, 680 Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02272. Tel: (+1) 617 926 8200, fax: ++
8532, email: cfr@earthwatch.org.


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American Fisheries Society Symposium on Long-lived
Marine Animals

This symposium, held during the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting (August 1997, Monterey,
California), reviewed the ecology and conservation of a range of long-lived marine animals such as
sharks, sea turtles, sturgeons and groupers. These are characterized by long life spans, slow growth and
late maturity; factors which make them very vulnerable to mortality caused by humans. Those which also
produce only a few young, capable of high survivorship under natural conditions, or which occupy limited
or sensitive critical habitats (e.g. sea turtle nesting beaches or estuarine/riverine spawning grounds), are
particularly susceptible to man's activities. Species with such extreme life-history limitations need careful
management if they are not to be driven to regional extinction by commercial multi-species fishing
operations and other human pressures.

Objectives of the symposium included educating scientists, policy-makers and the public about the need to
conserve and properly manage these and other long-lived marine animals. The meeting was also the first
step towards the preparation of an American Fisheries Society position statement which will be used to
influence management policies for these organisms and to increase public visibility of their special
management needs.

Papers were presented by top researchers from throughout the United States, Canada and Australia.
Their subjects included the status, life history, management and conservation of long-lived teleosts
(including orange roughy and Pacific rockfishes), right whales, and long-lived marine molluscs; variable m ,
resilience to fishing pressure among sharks; a review of population genetics in sharks; the influence of
catastrophes on the demographic trends of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal; and lessons from sea
turtle headstarting programmes. Proceedings are being prepared for publication.

For more information contact American Fisheries Society, fax: (+1) 301 897 8096. Web page: http://
www.fisheries.org (formerly www.esd.ornl.gov/societies/AFS).

From: Fisheries Information News, Vol 3 no. 2, July 1997.

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Recent & upcoming publications


Great white sharks: the biology of Carcharodon carcharias
A.P. Klimley and D.G. Ainley (Editors), 1996.
Academic Press, San Diego, California. ISBN 0-12-415030-6.
This authoritative 500+ page compendium is the definitive work on the great white shark. It contains
contributions from almost 70 named authors from all over the world, many of whose papers originated
from talks given at the symposium on the biology of the white shark which was held at the Bodega Marine
Laboratory in California, 1993. This volume has been well worth waiting for. Detailed sections cover
evolution, anatomy, physiology, behaviour, ecology and distribution, population biology and, inevitably,
interaction with humans the book concludes with a case study on white shark conservation in California.

If you are at all interested in this species, then you should get hold of a copy. I can only apologise for the
length of time it has taken me to provide these details in Shark News!

Collins guide to sharks and rays: the ultimate guide to underwater
Consultant editor Leighton R. Taylor. 1997.
Collins publishers, UK. ISBN 0 00 220104 6.
I was very disappointed not to receive a copy of this book for Christmas, and have not been able to obtain
a review elsewhere in time to print! However, a quick look on the bookshop shelves and reports from
several readers indicate that this publication provides an excellent popular account of all major families of
sharks and rays, backed by numerous colour photographs. The biology, evolution and habitats of sharks
and rays are also covered. Since Father Christmas ignored my request, I will be heading off to the
bookshop myself to obtain a copy.

Sharks and rays of New Zealand

Geoffrey Cox and Malcolm Francis, 1997.
Canterbury University Press, New Zealand. ISBN 0-908812-60-4.
This guide introduces and describes all 95 of New Zealand's sharks, rays and chimaeras, their evolution,
behaviour and biology. It also covers commercial and sports fishing (human attacks!), shark attacks,
sharks in history and in Maori and Pacific myths, and cloonservation. The 68 page book is well-illustrated
with numerous watercolours of many species in their natural habitats. Copies are NZ $25 each, plus
packing and postage (dependent on destination). For more information, contact M.P. Francis by e-mail: m.
francis@niwa.cri.nz or fax: + (04) 386 0574.
le Requin

Published by Favre, le Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris. 1997. ISBN 2-8289-0524-1.

Selections (in French) of writings on sharks by Aristotle, Belon and Verne, to Hemingway, Benchley and
Bernard Seret, chosen and introduced by Pascal Deynat. For more information contact Pascal Deynat by
fax: + (33) 1 4541 1763.

Ichthyological books

The specialist ichthyological bookseller and distributor, Steven Simpson, has moved. His new address is:
Steven Simpson Natural History Books, Rising Sun, Kelsale, Saxmundham, IP17 2QY, England. Fax: (+
44) (0)1728 604555. Tel: (+ 44) (0)1728 604777.

Is deepwater a dead-end?

This is the title of a Greenpeace UK publication released in June 1997. Subtitled A policy review of
the gold rush for 'ancient deepwater' fish in the Atlantic Frontier, the report summarises the
current state of knowledge of the biology of deepwater fish species and growing exploitation pressures on
the deepwater stocks of the North Atlantic.

It explains that scientific knowledge of the biology of deepwater species is so limited that stock depletion
can take place long before the data needed for fisheries management purposes become available.
However, as for elasmobranchs, our current knowledge of these species is sufficient to demonstrate that
they have a very different biology to traditional commercial teleost fishes.

Deepwater species of teleosts are characterized by slow growth, longevity and low reproductive capacity
in comparison with coastal species (although they are not as strongly K-selected as elasmobranchs). As a
result, their stocks will take a long time to recover when removed by a fishery. The report suggests that the
impacts of fishing these deep sea populations may even effectively be irreversible.


[,,I"[ 1"1,1 0t* B t 1 i
SSG Fund~ii r'^ngTni^^^



Illustration:@ lan K. Fergusson
Kite fin shark Dalatias licha (Bonnaterre, 1788). This deepwater dogfish has traditionally been targeted
by deep-water directed fisheries, which rapidly decline when large quantities are taken. With the
development of multi-species deep sea fisheries, stocks of this species are likely to come under
increased pressure.

Deepwater trawling is associated with extremely high levels of discard of non-commercial species, which
will similarly be affected. Deepwater long-lining leads to a high mortality of deepwater sharks, which are
even more vulnerable to the effects of exploitation than deepwater teleosts. Many of the smaller sharks
are discarded, often unrecorded, sometimes after the removal of their oil-rich livers, and many species
cannot be identified by fishermen or even many fisheries biologists. The report notes that these fisheries
are completely unregulated. Indeed, it suggests that they provide a welcome outlet for the excess fishing
capacity in the shallower water fisheries.

The final report to the UK Government of The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and
Technology on the subject of Fish Stock Conservation and Management (1996) concluded: "Ideally, we
would recommend an interim suspension of all deep-sea fishing, but we recognize that it could not at
present be enforced." It seems unlikely that the European Commission will address this issue or adopt
regulatory measures for deepsea fisheries in the foreseeable future. Greenpeace therefore advocates that
the UK government should take unilateral measures to close deepwater fisheries within the area of the
Atlantic Frontier which lies within its Exclusive Economic Zone.


Greenpeace UK, Canonbury Villas, London N1 2PN, fax: +44 (0)171 865 8200, and website: http://

Song for the Blue Ocean

Carl Safina, 1997.
Shark Specialist Group member Carl Safina's new book is being published by Henry Holt Co. and will be
available by the time this issue of Shark News is circulated (ISBN 0-8050-4671-2). Advance reviews of
his account of the plight of our oceans, its fisheries and the people who rely on them are impressive. To
place a credit card order call Holt at + 1-800-288-2131, or contact your bookstore.

TRAFFIC Regional Trade Reviews

Two new TRAFFIC Network Trade Reviews, which formerly appeared in Volume 1 of the Compendium of
TRAFFIC's Regional Studies on the World Trade in Sharks (1996), have now been published separately.
The trade in sharks and shark products in the Western Indian and Southeast Atlantic
Oceans. Editors Nina T. Marshall and Rob Barnett (1997). Published by TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa,
Nairobi, Kenya.

This well-presented and informative 130-page report contains an overview chapter for the whole region,
and separate accounts of reviews carried out of fisheries and trade in the Seychelles, Eritrea, the Somali
shark fishery in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean, Kenyan waters, Mainland Tanzania and
Zanzibar, Mozambique, South Africa, and Madagascar. The regional study commenced with a literature
review and circulation of questionnaires to the recreational and commercial fishing industries, government
officials, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), associations and individuals. This was followed up by
short term field consultancies in a few countries, while other reports were compiled from desk studies,
questionnaire returns and correspondence with government officials and NGOs. Each chapter includes
sections on the historical overview, current fisheries, trade, conservation implications, regulatory/
management frameworks, and ends with a section providing conclusions and recommendations. It was
impossible to assess the situation in Angola, the Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritius, Namibia and Sudan.

The trade in sharks and shark products in India: a preliminary survey. Fahmeeda Hanfee
(1997). Published by WWF-lndia (TRAFFIC-India). The 50 page report, including appendices, is based on
a review of literature backed by survey of a number of selected east and west coast sites, including all the
major ports of India. This preliminary study did not provide sufficient data for clear conclusions to be
drawn, but recommendations are made for more research and data collection and new conservation and
management initiatives.

Contact TRAFFIC International for details of how to obtain these reports. Fax +44 1223 277237 or email:

IUCN Shark Specialist Group publications in preparation

Implications of biology for the conservation and management of sharks.

Compiled and edited by M. Camhi and S. Fowler.
This report, produced by the Shark Specialist Group for the CITES Animals Committee meeting in
September 1996, is now being revised and updated. It will be published shortly in the IUCN Species
Survival Commission's Occasional Paper series. Original contributors are asked to send their
amendments and updates urgently to Sarah Fowler or Merry Camhi.

Proceedings of the Darwin seminar and workshop on elasmobranch
biodiversity, conservation and management. Sabah, 7-10 July 1997.

The proceedings of this meeting are currently in preparation. In addition to reporting on the results of the
Darwin project, the volume will include overviews of world and regional fisheries and trade, reviews of the
recreational importance of elasmobranchs, an assessment of the regional biodiversity of chondrichthyan
fishes, reviews of national and local fisheries and markets in the Indo-Pacific/south-east Asian region,
descriptions of whale shark fisheries, freshwater elasmobranch biodiversity, and management and
conservation initiatives.

Information on how to obtain copies of both these reports will be given in the next Shark News, or
contact Sarah Fowler for details.

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