About 30% of the shark and ray species assessed worldwide are listed as Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU) or Near Threatened (NT) of extinction on the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). For more than 45% of the species, there is no information to categorise their conservation status or threat, so they are classified as DD (deficient data). Similarly, approximately two thirds of the shark species commonly caught by high seas fisheries are classified as at least Vulnerable.
Nineteen species of sharks have recently been included in the List of Wild Species under the Special Protection Regime (Spanish legislation), although they do not have a threat category, so they are not included in the Spanish Catalogue of Threatened Species.
The great reduction in shark populations, mainly in the Mediterranean Sea, could cause imbalances in the marine environment, through an indirect cascading effect on the abundance of other marine organisms, for which action on these populations for their recovery and conservation constitutes a priority for the general conservation of the Spanish, European and global marine environment.
Over the last years, Chelonia Association has worked on research and verification of effective means to reduce the incidental catch of sharks by the longline fleet through the use of electromagnetic devices. Thus, experiments were carried out in captivity in several species of sharks and in real fishing conditions, with promising results. At the same time, actions have been carried out to better understand the diet of some of the target species of some fisheries, as well as the presence of polluting substances in their tissues, such as heavy metals and organochlorine compounds (PCBs). Nowadays, actions aimed at innovating and having means in the longline fleet to promote the reduction of the accidental capture of sharks are still being carried out. Likewise, it is intended to carry out strengthening actions, since we consider of great importance the training and active participation of fishermen, shipowners and fishing associations in the processes of investigation, compilation and generation of information and in the elaboration of strategies or measures to allow to improve and innovate in the management of marine resources and provide added value to fishery products.
Elasmobranch information: http://bycatch-reduction-project.jimdo.com/elasmobranquios/