Sharks aggregate in ‘hotspots’ in the North Atlantic Ocean and are at risk from overfishing by longliner vessels that target the same areas for fishing, a recent study has concluded. Researchers found that the shark and fishing-fleet ranges overlapped by 80% in the North Atlantic and call for international regulation of shark catches to protect at-risk shark populations.
Longliner fishing vessels (greater than 15 metres in length) use baited lines (typically between 80 and 100 kilometres long, carrying thousands of hooks) to catch fish such as tuna and swordfish, but also sharks, principally for their fins. Non-target species (including some non-target sharks) are also indiscriminately caught on the longlines.
Longliners are likely to target ocean areas that are the preferred habitats of sharks, but the extent of overlap between longliner fishing and shark ranges has not been well known.
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