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DATE: April 15, 2019

SNIP: A study of small-scale fisheries operating from Kenya, Zanzibar and Madagascar, has revealed the massive underreporting of sharks and rays caught annually in the region.

Led by experts at Newcastle University, UK, and published in the academic journal Biological Conservation, the team say the study highlights the substantial underreporting of catches by small scale fisheries and the urgent need to expand efforts globally to assess their impact on vulnerable species.

Thousands of miles of nets and lines are set in the world’s oceans each day and the unintentional capture of non-target species – often termed as bycatch – is unavoidable.

It is estimated about 40 percent of the catch worldwide is unintentionally caught, and includes vulnerable species such as dolphins, marine turtles, sharks and seabirds.

In large-scale commercial fishing the bycatch is wasted, thrown back into the sea dead or dying, but in small scale fisheries, such as those studied by the Newcastle team, the non-target species are generally retained and sold, in some cases illegally.

Senior author Dr. Per Berggren, Head of the Marine Megafauna Lab at Newcastle University said: “We looked at just one region of the world but it’s likely that similar underreporting is happening in small scale fisheries globally – which means our 2,500,000 unreported sharks and rays only represent a small portion of the total global catch.