Friday 25 October 2019.
With Ellen Barrowclift- Mahon, Newcastle University
Elasmobranchs (sharks, rays, and skates) form a significant component of fisheries catch, both target and bycatch, worldwide. With the decline of these ecologically and socio-economically important species, assessing their conservation status and the impact of their removal from the marine environment represent major challenges for fisheries management. This is especially the case for small-scale fisheries in developing countries like those prevalent across the Indian Ocean. These fisheries contribute significantly to catch rates and supporting livelihoods but are largely poorly monitored and unregulated. Devil and manta rays (Mobula spp.) are extremely vulnerable to fisheries exploitation due to an extremely low reproductive rate. A growing international market for their gill plates, used for food and traditional medicine in East Asia, has increased the demand for these species and consequently the fisheries targeting them. This project aims to address crucial data gaps, specifically in taxonomy, population structure, and life history, to allow comprehensive status assessment and facilitate effective evidence-based management, in order to avoid further decline of these species.
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