SPECIES DESCRIPTION

Priority target species

The priority target species of the present project are considered “critically endangered” or endangered” in the European Red List of the IUCN, in particular: Lamna nasus (critically endangered), Carcharhinus plumbeus (endangered), Alopias spp. (endangered), Dalatias licha (endangered), Squalus acanthias (endangered), Cethorinus maximus (endangered).

Other additional shark species targeted by the project are species considered as threatened in the Mediterranean basin, such as the the pelagic sharks commonly captured as by-catch Isurus oxyrichus, and Prionace glauca (critically endangered in the Mediterranean, IUCN) and the fishing target shark species of the genus Mustelus (vulnerable in the Mediterranean, IUCN).

The actions developed and the results generated by the project will have positive effects on other species of pelagic listed in Annex II of the SPA/BD protocol of the Barcelona Convention.

Cetorhinus maximus (Basking shark)

The Basking shark is a cosmopolitan species, with a wide geographical spread across the world’s oceans and seas. It is the largest shark of the Mediterranean and the second largest in the world after the whaleshark.

It is found throughout the Mediterranean, including the Cypriot, Italian and Greek seas, and performs extensive migrations. In winter it is usually found in deep, cold waters, while in summer it swims in shallow waters, near the shores, in search of food.

His diet includes copepods, decapod larvae and fish eggs, found while filtering the water column. It is an oviparous species, with low fertility and long gestation period and gives birth to up to 6 young.

Its Mediterranean population has been assessed as Endangered and the species is protected under the Barcelona Convention, the Bern Convention, the Recommendation GFCM/36/2012/3, and the Regulation 2018/120.

The biggest threat to its Mediterranean population is incidental fishing on static or drift nets, longliners and others.

Dalatias licha (kitefin shark))

The kitefin shark is a medium-sized shark that lives in the deep waters located in the Atlantic and Indo-Western Pacific Ocean in the continental shelf and continental shelf of temperate and tropical seas.

It normally dwells in the bottom but often can be found in the water column, solitary or small schools. It feeds on fish, skates, other sharks, cephalopods and crustaceans.

The species is not protected but its Mediterranean population has been assessed as Vulnerable with by-catch in bottom trawls and longliners being the main threat to its population.

Squalus acanthias (Spiny dogfish)

The Spiny dogfish is distributed into the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean, the Indo-Pacific Ocean, and in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, commonly found in coastal areas up to 1400 m depth. A highly migratory species that forms separate schools by size and gender.

It feeds on jellyfish, squid and a wide variety of benthic fish, shrimps and crab. Its Mediterranean population has been assessed as Endangered while there is no protection measure in place.

The main threats for its Mediterranean population are both bycatch and targeted fishing as in some countries it is considered a commercial species.

Carcharinus plumbeus (Sandbar shark)

Sandbar sharks are distributed in the Pacific and Indo-Pacific Ocean and in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Mediterranean Sea.

It occurs in all Greek seas from the coastal zone the open sea and they perform extensive seasonal migrations.

It mainly feeds on bony fish, small sharks, cephalopods, shrimp, rays and zoobenthos.

Its Mediterranean populations have been assessed as Endangered with bycatch in bottom trawling, longlining, and nets, and habitat degradation being the most important threats. The species is not protected in the Mediterranean.

Alopias vulpinus (Common thresher)

The common thresher is a cosmopolitan species, which usually lives in tropical and temperate waters, in all the oceans of the world, including the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

It is a large pelagic shark, found in coastal areas, above the continental shelf but also offshore.

It is usually found at depths ranging from surface down to 550 m. It mainly feeds on small epipelagic fish, squids, crustaceans and rarely on sea birds. Its Mediterranean population has been assessed as Endangered, with the main threat being the bycatch in swordfish and tuna longlining and purse seining.

Targeted fishing of this species and of all species of the genus Alopias is prohibited under Directive 120/2018 and ICCAT Recommendation 2009-07.

Lamna nasus (Porbeagle)

Porbeagle is a shark distributed in subtropical and temperate waters. It is a pelagic, oceanodromic species, found in depths between 0-715 m off the coasts and in offshore areas.

Its diet include other small sharks, small, pelagic fish that form schools, molluscs, isopods and others. It gives birth to 1-5 pups at a time, and females reach maturity at 12 to 13 years of age, while males reach 7 to 8.

The main threats are targeted & illegal fishing from longlines and bottom trawlers. Its Mediterranean population has been assessed as Critically Endangered while the species is protected under the Barcelona Convention, the Berne Convention, Recommendation GFCM / 42/2018/2, Regulation 2015/2102 and others.

La sua popolazione mediterranea è stata valutata come in pericolo critico e la specie è protetta ai sensi della Convenzione di Barcellona, della Convenzione di Berna, della Raccomandazione GFCM / 42/2018/2, del Regolamento 2015/2102 e altri.

Alopias supercilosus (Bigeye Thresher)

The Bigeye thresher is a cosmopolitan species of tropical and subtropical regions.

It is found in the oceanic zone but also in coastal areas from the surface up to 723 m of depth.

It feeds on pelagic and benthic fish such as scombroids, hake and cephalopods. It gives birth to 2 to 4 pups and females reache maturity at 12 to 13 years of age, while males at 9 to 10.

Its Mediterranean population has been assessed as Endangered due to overexploitation of their population as a bycatch rather than a target species while is protected by Regulation 2017/2107, Regulation 2018/120, ICCAT Recommendation 2009-07.

Secondary species

Isurus oxyrinchus (Mako shark)

The shortfin mako shark is a cosmopolitan and oceanodromic species with a wide geographical distribution in the Indo-Pacific, the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic, including the Mediterranean.

It is a large pelagic shark, adapted to live in tropical and temperate waters, at depths ranging from the surface down to 740 m and often found near shores.

It performs extensive seasonal migrations and feeds on fish, other sharks and cephalopods while larger individuals feed on larger prey and small cetaceans. Its Mediterranean population has been assessed as Critically Endangered, with its main threat being the targeted and incidental fishing by surface longlines and less often by nets.

The species is protected under the Barcelona Convention, the Berne Convention the Recommendation of GFCM / 36/2012/3 and GFCM/42/2018/2.

Mustelus mustelus (Smooth hounds)

Smooth hounds are species of the family Triakidae which includes about 30 species while in the Mediterranean 3 species occur; Mustelus asterias (SDS), Mustelus mustelus (SMD) and Mustelus punctulatus (MPT).

They are medium-sized sharks, found in the oceanic and littoral zone from the surface up to 650 m deep. They feed on crustaceans, cephalopods and other fish.

They are an important part of bottom trawl and longline fisheries and in the past of small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean but today the populations of all three species have declined significantly due to overexploitation.

As a result they have been assessed as Vulnerable. None of the 3 species is protected in the Mediterranean.

Prionace glauca (Blue shark)

Probably the most widely distributed chondrichthyan. It occurs in subtropical areas, in temperate and tropical waters, in all the oceans of the world including the Mediterranean but is absent from the Black Sea.

Can be found swimming from the surface up to 1000 m depth and performs long seasonal migrations.

His diet includes various fish, including small sharks, crustaceans, cephalopods, cetaceans and, occasionally, seagulls.

Their population has declined dramatically due to targeted longline fisheries both for their flesh but also for their fins.

As a result their Mediterranean population has been assessed as Critically Endangered, however the species is not protected.