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.
Why do we work 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.
Effective conservation and management of an endangered species such as the angel shark, requires the collaboration among different stakeholders. Conservation measures can only be achieved if those that are causing the threat are involved in the implementation.
Through regular awareness raising 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 release process and shows the actions you need to take to increase shark survival.
Why did we develop the best-practice guide?
Concious that it is not always possible to release the shark safely and in an adequate manner next to the boat, as required by law, this guide helps fishermen to follow a set of steps to avoid harming the shark and to increase its survival after being returned into the water.
Why do we ask for a camera?
Before handing out this guide we have briefed sport fishers about the critical status of the angel shark and their vulnerability. A camera is useful for us to:
1) verify that the best practice guidelines have been applied
2) to register the sighting and position where the animal was caught. This information is vital to feed into our ongoing research on angel shark ecology and distribution in the Archipelago.
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.