FAO Releases Sharks, Batoids and Chimaeras of the North Atlantic Catalogue

FAOJanuary 2013: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has released a catalogue titled "Sharks, Batoids and Chimaeras of the North Atlantic," which presents a comprehensive and updated treatment of the identification, taxonomy, distribution, biology and ecology of the sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras of the North Atlantic, FAO Areas 21 and 27.

The catalogue aims to facilitate the species-specific identification of cartilaginous fishes occurring in the North Atlantic by scientists, fishery officers and observers and the interested public. It indicates that in both areas, cartilaginous fishes are caught by target and non-target fisheries and are subject to an extremely high fishing pressure. Most species are vulnerable to overfishing because of their specific biological characteristics, namely slow growth, late maturity, low reproductive potential and thus low capacity for population recovery.

FAO stresses that such traits limit their capacity to recover from overfishing and it is therefore essential to implement an effective framework for the management of fisheries on sharks, batoids and chimaeras. In the North Atlantic, the European Community, the US and Canada have adopted Plans of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks that set down measures for the sustainable management of the fisheries concerned. The plans include recommendations to improve species-specific monitoring of catch and landings of cartilaginous fishes. [Publication: Sharks, Batoids and Chimaeras of the North Atlantic]