Elasmobranch bycatch in the Canadian Atlantic: Composition, biogeography, and mitigation
Principal Investigator - Aurelie Godin (Ph. D. Candidate)
Supervisor - Boris Worm, Ph. D (Associate Professor)
This project is co-sponsored by WWF-Canada, who is currently running a Shark Conservation Project in Atlantic Canada.
Type of Project:
Concerns have been raised over the impact of fishing on shark populations around the world. Because of their life-history characteristics: relatively slow growth, late age of maturity, long life, and low reproductive rate, sharks have long been recognized as being vulnerable to increased mortality.
The goal of my doctoral research is to analyze bycatch hotspots of shark and skate species in the Arctic, Newfoundland and Labrador, Gulf, and Maritimes regions in Atlantic Canada. Using existing data from at-sea monitoring, logbooks, and commercial landings from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, I am investigating different environmental and operational factors that explain patterns of bycatch. Where specific region–fleet combinations warrant conservation measures, I will be evaluating the costs/benefits of various bycatch mitigations, such as gear modifications, time-area closures, and other operational practices. Fisheries bycatch is a main cause of population declines in several species of sharks and skates around the world.
In Atlantic Canada, high bycatch rates have contributed to the consideration of several species (i.e. spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), blue shark (Prionace glauca), shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), winter skate (Leucoraja ocellata)) for listing under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. This project will provide important information for other scientists and managers, as well as industry, and ultimately will provide a scientific basis for possible conservation measures.