Sunday, January 26, 2014

IUCN - the Shark Paper!

Red List criteria - click for detail!

I've finally managed to work myself through the paper.

First things first.
It is simply epic - extremely interesting, extremely exhaustive, extremely erudite and extremely convincing in its conclusions. In brief, it is everything one could have ever expected from that illustrious panel of authors and then some, and I really must commend them for their unprecedented, excellent work.
You can find various (and variously accurate) synopses here, here, here, here, here and here.

These are the principal findings.
  • 24% of all Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras (= the Chondrichtyans) are threatened with extinction.
  • Of those, many of the completely overlooked Rays are at greatest risk
  • The principal threats are overfishing, both through targeted fisheries but also very much bycatch; habitat loss; conflicts with humans leading to persecution; climate change.
  • Extinction risk is greatest for larger species = species that are slower breeding and/or more susceptible to fishing pressure; species that live at shallower depth and whose depth range is narrower = species that we can more easily catch and whose habitat is more exposed to human degradation; species with limited geographical range, especially fresh water endemics.
Evolutionary uniqueness and taxonomic conservation priorities.
Threat among marine chondrichthyan families varies with life history sensitivity (maximum length) and exposure to fisheries (depth distribution). (A) Proportion of threatened data sufficient species and the richness of each taxonomic family. (B) The most and least threatened taxonomic families. (C) Average life history sensitivity and accessibility to fisheries of 56 chondrichthyan families. Significantly greater (or lower) risk than expected is shown in red (green).
Click for detail!
  • The areas with the highest threats are the Mediterranean, Red Sea and some areas of the Indopacific, foremost of which the Golden Triangle of marine biodiversity.
  • Many nations lack the resources, expertise and political will for implementing adequate management and conservation measures - the notable exceptions being the USA and Australia, and this despite of disposing of important commercial Elasmobranch fisheries.
  • Large geographical ranges spanning many different legislations are particularly problematic for enacting effective management and conservation measures.
  • Conduct more research and data collection for i.e. describing life histories, for population assessments, for assessing fishing pressure, etc. all of which is vital for the formulation of adequate management and conservation plans.
  • Establish science based management and conservation plans for both the Chondrichtyans and their critical habitats, with particularly stringent measures (= precautionary principle!) for threatened species.
  • Radically improve implementation, monitoring, enforcement and prosecution.
  • Improve regional and international cooperation.
  • Splash on some makeup, strap on your bikinis and go ride as many as you can - not!
My only grievance?
This is very fisheries oriented.
No mention whatsoever of MPAs and Sanctuaries, and no mention of alternatives like i.e. ecotourism and aquaculture - which of course begs the question, is this (a) beyond the scope of the paper (b) omitted due to the need to remain concise (c) an oversight?
Or  may this be an indicator for, gasp, ideological strife, competition or some other nefarious agenda? :)

Anyway, fabulous job!
Enjoy the paper!

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