Big catch, little sharks: Insight into Peruvian small-scale longline fisheries.
Ecology and Evolution
Wiley Open Access
© 2014 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Shark take, driven by vast demand for meat and fins, is increasing. We set out to gain insights into the impact of small-scale longline fisheries in Peru. Onboard observers were used to document catch from 145 longline fishing trips (1668 fishing days) originating from Ilo, southern Peru. Fishing effort is divided into two seasons: targeting dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus; December to February) and sharks (March to November). A total of 16,610 sharks were observed caught, with 11,166 identified to species level. Of these, 70.6% were blue sharks (Prionace glauca), 28.4% short-fin mako sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus), and 1% were other species (including thresher (Alopias vulpinus), hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena), porbeagle (Lamnus nasus), and other Carcharhinidae species (Carcharhinus brachyurus, Carcharhinus falciformis, Galeorhinus galeus). Mean ± SD catch per unit effort of 33.6 ± 10.9 sharks per 1000 hooks was calculated for the shark season and 1.9 ± 3.1 sharks per 1000 hooks were caught in the dolphinfish season. An average of 83.7% of sharks caught (74.7% blue sharks; 93.3% mako sharks) were deemed sexually immature and under the legal minimum landing size, which for species exhibiting k-selected life history traits can result in susceptibility to over exploitation. As these growing fisheries operate along the entire Peruvian coast and may catch millions of sharks per annum, we conclude that their continued expansion, along with ineffective legislative approaches resulting in removal of immature individuals, has the potential to threaten the sustainability of the fishery, its target species, and ecosystem. There is a need for additional monitoring and research to inform novel management strategies for sharks while maintaining fisher livelihoods.
We would like to thank the members of the fishing communities who participated in this study, in particular the fishers who were willing to have an observer onboard. We acknowledge Pro Delphinus staff: Bernedo, Cuentas, Lopez, and Mamani, for their help in data collection. We are thankful also to Pro Delphinus staff Natalia Ortiz and Nadia Balducci for support in data entry. This study was conducted in conjunction with and funded by the Darwin Initiative Sustainable Artisanal Fisheries Initiative in Peru and an initial grant from the Oak Foundation through Duke University. MJW was funded by PRIMaRE. JAS and JCM received support from ORSAS and University of Exeter, respectively.
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Vol. 4, Iss. 12, pp. 2375 - 2383
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