Fishermens' Knowledge for Shark Conservation

Project Lead:

Jarrett Corke - WWF-Canada (Shark Project Coordinator)

Project Status:

In Progress

Type of Initiative:

Social Science Research

Project Location:

Nova Scotia

For which Shark Species:

Any species of elasmobranch that may be encountered in pelagic or groundfish longline fisheries.

Project Description:

Bycatch and unaccountable discard mortality in fishing operations are the primary threat to elasmobranchs in Atlantic Canada. Pelagic and groundfish longline, mid-water and bottom trawl fisheries account for the largest proportion of shark bycatch. Enhanced data collection is needed to accurately estimate bycatch mortality, but additional important information on non-target species catches in commercial fisheries can be accessed by direct communication with fishermen. Experienced fishermen often possess a wealth of knowledge on the marine ecosystem and can provide insight on, among other things, local stock structure, critical habitat, and how fishing and the marine environmental has changed over time.

To gather this knowledge for WWF-Canada, qualitative interviews were conducted with pelagic and groundfish longline captains. The objectives were to: 1) through a mapping exercise, determine spatial and temporal distributions of elasmobranchs and identify potential bycatch hotspots; 2) identify modifications to fishing practices employed by fishers in response to elasmobranch interactions; 3) identify methods to reduce and/or avoid bycatch; and 4) describe fishers’ attitudes and perceptions towards elasmobranchs and the bycatch of these species.

Significant conservation benefits can be obtained from fishers’ knowledge, which can provide a real-time perspective of the current circumstances on the water. Through integration of scientific literature with the study results, a more comprehensive perspective may emerge on the elasmobranch bycatch problem in Atlantic Canada. Furthermore, results may inform the future direction of management objectives to further elasmobranch conservation in Atlantic Canada.

Contact Information:

Principal Investigator
Jarrett Corke
Shark Project Coordinator
Halifax, Nova Scotia
tel: (902) 482-1105 ext.25
fax: (902) 482-1107

Tonya Wimmer
Species Conservation Manager
Halifax, Nova Scotia
tel: (902) 482-1105 ext.32
fax: (902) 482-1107

Special Thanks:

WWF would like to acknowledge the Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk and the Canadian Wildlife Federation for supporting this work.

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