ICES Annual Science Conference 2018

Theme session K

How are we managing? Developing new management tools for commercially exploited sharks and rays

Sharks and rays (elasmobranchs) are typically characterized by slow life history, and several species are of conservation concern in the North Atlantic. Many stocks are data-limited, with key gaps in understanding of basic life history parameters as well as exploitation status. This is the case with almost all those assessed by ICES Working Group on Elasmobranch Fishes (WGEF). Elasmobranchs are important bycatch in many fisheries and have the potential to become ‘choke’ species if and when they are included in the CFP landing obligation in 2019.

Current gaps in basic knowledge of sharks and rays make it difficult to fulfill ICES strategic goals 1 and 3, concerning understanding and sustainable use of ecosystems. Key issues for Goal 1 include life history, reproduction, aging and stock identity, distribution, migrations, and habitat use. Achieving aspects of Goal 3 (for example estimating or maximizing sustainable yields) is challenging, because analytical assessments cannot be conducted for most elasmobranchs. A lack of biological information can restrict the application of assessment methods (such as length-based indicators, LBI) that require estimates of maturity and growth parameters. 

There is increasing concern over the state of many elasmobranch species, including ensuring that depleted stocks can recover whilst also that commercially-exploited species are being harvested sustainably. Concerted action is needed to improve management of those fisheries exploiting skates, rays, and sharks, both in European waters and elsewhere.

Presentations for this session are invited on the following issues: 

  • Developments in tools for studying biology/ecology and stock structure: including tagging and telemetry, (genetic) stock structure, distribution and habitat models, and stable isotope analysis
  • Novel alliances between science, industry, policy and NGOs: including collaborative work on vitality and post-release mortality of discards, development of best practices to reduce capture mortality and initiatives to develop programmes for collecting fishery-dependent data
  • Emerging assessment methodologies: including use of life-history information in developing MSY/proxy reference points, methodologies for monitoring stock recovery and management decision tools, including spatial approaches and Management Strategy Evaluations

Key players from each of the stakeholder groups (e.g. managers, policy makers and scientists) will be invited to present their views.

The session will also feature a discussion section. Theme session results will be disseminated in a peer-reviewed article on new tools and approaches for managing elasmobranch fisheries.

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Conveners:
Paddy Walker (The Netherlands)
Ivone Figueiredo  ​(Portugal)
Jim Ellis (United Kingdom)
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Theme session K

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