Identifying nearshore nursery habitats for sharks and rays in the Eastern Tropical Pacific from fishers’ knowledge and landings
- Sharks are consistently landed year round in coastal fisheries of the ETP.
- Sphyrna lewini is the most frequently landed shark species in ETP fisheries.
- High catch frequency of juvenile sharks from gill net fisheries near mangrove forests.
- Mobulid rays have limited and sporadic usage of coastal areas in the ETP.
- Fisher knowledge is crucial to inform endangered species conservation.
Why? The tropical eastern Pacific represents an area of extremely high marine biodiversity that supports productive fisheries, and acts as an important migratory corridor for many vulnerable species. The most significant elasmobranch conservation efforts of the zone focus on the emblematic islands of Cocos, Malpelo and Galápagos, neglecting the continental shelf, and the coastal ecosystems (mangroves, reefs, estuaries), that act as key habitats during certain life stages. The lack of effective regional agreement on conservation of pelagic and migratory shark and ray species severely impairs conservation efforts, and artisanal fisheries continue to do significant damage to migratory populations through their exploitation of crucial coastal habitat.
This study is about harnessing and collating the experience and knowledge of local fishers that have spent their lives on the water, and using it to guide marine management and conservation of biodiversity in the tropical eastern Pacific.
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