This week the Angel Shark Project launched a best practice guide to catch and release for sharks and rays in the Canary Islands (with a special focus on angel sharks!). This is the outcome of over 8 months of working with the sportfishing community in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, funded by the Disney Conservation Fund. Our goal is to reduce sportfisher-related angel shark mortality through explaining how small changes in handling practice can increase shark and ray survival when they are returned to the water.
Sportfishing in the Canary Islands:
The number of recreational angler licenses in the Canary Islands nearly trebled between 2005 and 2010, from 40,000 to 116,000 licenses (Capote et al. 2012). In addition, there are 40 registered sportfishing charter vessels taking paying clients on fishing trips. These trips last for around 6-8 hours each day and a number of fish, rays and sharks can be caught, including the angel shark, before they are returned to the water.
Working with sportfishers:
The sportfishing industry provides a number of jobs and is an important part of the Canary Island economy and culture. The Angel Shark Project decided from an early stage that it was crucial to work with sportfishers in the Canary Islands to find a way of reducing their impact on angel sharks. Through regular meetings and discussion groups in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, we have together developed a best-practice guide to catch and release to increase shark/ray survival when they are returned to the water. The guide takes you through all the stages of the fishing process and shows the actions you need to take to increase shark survival. Look out for our new responsible fishing logo on the side of sportfishing boats that are following this guide and helping to secure the future of angel sharks in the archipelago.
We would like to thank all the sportfishers in Gran Canaria and Tenerife who have taken part in this project and the Disney Conservation Fund for their support.