The Angel Shark Project has contributed to the elaboration of a status review of 3 Critically Endangered Angel Shark species Squatina aculeata S. oculata and S. squatina, produced to list theses species as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Among other fishery scientists and managers, our Research lead Eva Meyers and our Conservation Lead Joanna Barker have provided information, data, and professional opinions, as well as peer reviewed this comprehensive document.
“In response to the alarming decline of S. squatina over the years, a number of conservation efforts have developed with the goal of learning more about these sharks in order to understand how better to protect them. One such effort, which was previously mentioned, is the ASP. It was created in November 2013 with the overall goal of securing the future of the angelshark (S. squatina) in Europe. Part of this effort included creating the “ePoseidon” network which is a database that the public can access in order to log their sightings of the species around the Canary Islands. This information will help researchers better understand the distribution of the species throughout the islands. Scientists from ULPGC have also been doing validation dives in angelshark hotspots to collect information on the spatial and temporal distribution patterns, assess population abundance, and identify residency and movement patterns to identify potential nursery areas or important habitat (ASP 2014). In addition to this network, the ASP has also recently received funding to work with the sportfishing community and pilot an angelshark tagging project in the region that will start in April 2015 (E. Meyers, pers. comm. 2015). Goals for this collaboration include reducing angelshark mortality by developing a best practice guide for catch and release of the species with the sportfishing community, raising awareness of the importance of the Canary Islands for angelshark conservation, and expanding the network of citizen scientists that report angelshark sightings to ePoseidon (J. Barker, pers. comm. 2014). The aim of the pilot tagging program is to find the best methodology to tag angelsharks to be used in future tagging programs. The ASP has also received funding from the Save our Seas Foundation for a tagging project covering the three main Islands (Lanazarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife), including the nursery grounds in each island and collaborating with Asociacion Tonina in “las Teresitas” nursery ground. The best tagging methodology identified in the pilot tagging will be used to gather data on angelshark movements and migratory behavior (E. Meyers pers. comm. 2015). Future plans include projects to reduce morality and/or disturbance of the angelshark in the Canary Islands, data collection to inform conservation (including genetic and tagging research), and awareness raising campaigns, but are dependent on future funding (J. Barker, pers. comm. 2015)”