Composition and abundance of shark by-catch in Montenegrin fisheries

Sharks, one of the most endangered animal species, are affected by commercial fishing in Montenegro. Out of nine shark species assessed in the study, three have the critically endangered IUCN status, of which two are nationally protected with a permanent fishing ban. Intentional killing of sharks in Montenegrin waters is due to damage they make to fishing gear and baits, lack of knowledge on their importance and negative image of sharks the media have been imposing to the general population.

This publication is produced under the project ‘‘Determination of fishing effort on sharks by Montenegrin marine fisheries and multi-stakeholder informing about conservation of these endangered species’’ (project description linked). It served as a part of the project intended to be the first comprehensive shark-dedicated research in Montenegro.

Sharks are affected by significant fishing pressures which include intentional and incidental catches. Intentional catches are a result of lack of awareness and care by fishermen and a few fisheries target M. mustelus, S. blainville and Mustelus spp. for their commercial value. Besides this, Montenegrin fisheries are generally not dependent on and don’t target sharks.

A total of nine shark species was observed in the catches of Montenegrin fishing fleet, with previous fishermen records indicating there are even more species present. Out of three species with critically endangered status by IUCN, two are nationally protected with a permanent fishing ban - I. oxyrinchus and P. glauca. As can be assumed, these two protected species suffer most from incidental and intentional mortality. Besides mentioned species, special focus should be put on O. centrina and C. plumbeus as a rare and endangered species of the Adriatic Sea. Occasional records of A. vulpinus and H. griseus should be noted and subjected to long-term monitoring.

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