A new study has been recently published by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, Elasmobranchs of the Mediterranean and Black Sea: status, ecology and biology. The information compiled by the authors shows that cartilaginous species, including sharks, rays and chimaeras, are by far the most endangered group of marine fish in the Mediterranean Sea. This is in line with the results of the IUCN Red List (2007 regional assessment) that clearly remarks the vulnerability of elasmobranchs and the lack of data on these species.
The report also makes recommendations to fill gaps in order to protect and manage elasmobranchs stocks and suggest conservation measures. In fact, better understanding of the composition of incidental and targeted catches of sharks by commercial fisheries and biological and ecological parameters are fundamentally important for the conservation of these species.
In the Mediterranean, almost no elasmobranchs are directly targeted by fisheries, but they constitute part of the bycatch in most local artisanal fisheries. Catches of elasmobranchs primarily derive from two different fisheries: the pelagic artisanal fishery with longlines and gillnets and the demersal trawl fishery.
The document compiled information through the study of 661 papers dealing on taxonomy, distribution, status, statistics, fisheries, bycatch, biologic and ecologic parameters on age and growth, food and feeding habits, reproductive biology and stock assessment of elasmobranchs in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.