Aim: To safeguard the future of Critically Endangered angel sharks throughout their natural range. 

The Angelshark (Squatina squatina) has suffered a tremendous fragmentation of it’s former distribution range, from Scandinavia down to the north-western Africa and including the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and The Canary Islands.

In the past decades, overfishing and high bycatch have severely depleted and fragmented these populations which has lead the IUCN to list this species as Critically Endangered in their Red List of threatened species in 2006 and 2015.

Urgent conservation policies and proper management require baseline data on the species ecology and distribution. The Canary Islands are the unique “hotspot” in the world where Angelsharks have kept possibly stable populations.

The aim will be achieved through the following objectives:

1) Data collection to inform conservation

  • The ecology and distribution of Angelsharks in the Canary Islands is determined through collection of data by citizen scientists (divers, sportfishers, members of the public etc.) and focused researchers.
  • Diving and sportfishing organisations educate their clients on Angelshark conservation and how to actively record angel shark sightings on the sightings map
  • Angelshark movements and site fidelity are identified through tagging and genetic research.
  • Nursery areas are explored and monitored
  • Biology and behavior is understood

2) Reduced mortality and/or disturbance

  • Sportfishing-related Angelshark mortality is eliminated in the Canary Islands through awareness raising and close collaboration to change lethal handling practices. (see our Best Practice guide)
  • Illegal landing of angel sharks for trade or personal consumption is eliminated in the Canary Islands.
  • Divers in the Canary Islands abide by an Angelshark code of conduct to eliminate diving-related disturbance of angel sharks in the region.

3) Awareness raising

  • The Canary Islands is widely recognized for holding a unique Angelshark population stronghold in Europe through an awareness raising campaign targeting divers, sportfishers, government and the wider public.
  • The local population, expatriate population and visitors to the Canary Islands are aware of the status of Angelsharks and advocate for the conservation of Angelsharks in the region.
  • Visitors understand the importance of the Canary Islands to Angelshark conservation and choose recreational activities based on the minimal impact on Angelsharks.

4) Legislative change

  • Local, national and European governments acknowledge the conservation status of Angelsharks and improve the levels of protection.
  • Key sites for Angelsharks (e.g. reproduction, nursery areas, foraging etc.) are identified and awarded spatial protection from damaging activities and conservation objectives are achieved through good management.

5) Angelshark conservation network

  • Researchers, conservationists, aquarists and other key stakeholders are brought together in the Angelshark Conservation Network to allow information-sharing, networking and developing Europe-wide initiatives to conserve the angel shark.
  • A robust, evidence-based Angelshark Action Plan for the Canary Islands and an Angel Shark Conservation Strategy is created in collaboration with the IUCN SSG, Shark Trust, Submon and relevant stakeholders
  • Additional funds are raised to deliver conservation and research initiatives.

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