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3.3 CATCHES BY FISHING AREA


In Table 3 chondrichthyan catches are summarized by FAO fishing areas from 1950 to 1997. In 1997 Western Indian Ocean was the major fishing area for chondrichthyans, followed by Western Central Pacific, Northeast Atlantic, Eastern Indian Ocean, Southwest Atlantic, Northwest Atlantic, Northwest Pacific and Eastern Central Pacific. The most relevant growth in catches during the 1950-97 period took place in FAO fishing areas of the Indian Ocean, the Northwest Atlantic and the Western Central Pacific. On the other hand, a decline in catches was registered in the Southeast and Southwest Pacific, and in the Northeast Atlantic. The following sections provide brief overviews of chondrichthyan fisheries in the main fishing areas.

Figure 9 Chondrichthyan catches by fishing area in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.1 Western Indian Ocean

In 1997 western Indian Ocean was the world top fishing area for chondrichthyans. These catches have grown appreciably from 21 300 tonnes in 1950 to more than 196 600 tonnes in 1997. The increase was particularly significant in the 1960s and 1970s, reaching 125 000 tonnes in 1978. Since then catches have fluctuated and fell to 69 700 tonnes in 1984. From 1985 they recovered steadily to reach a record of 204 300 tonnes in 1996.

In 1997 the major fishing nations in this area were India (97 000 tonnes), Pakistan (48 400 tonnes), Sri Lanka (20 000 tonnes) and Maldives (10 600 tonnes).

Requiem sharks represent the major identified shark species caught in this area, followed by silky sharks. In 1997 unidentified Elasmobranchii amounted to 129 200 tonnes. Captures of requiem sharks have grown considerably from 4 800 tonnes in 1950 to 31 200 tonnes in 1997. The increase was particularly remarkable in the early 1970s, to peak at a record of 43 800 tonnes in 1973. In the following years these catches fluctuated, plummeting to 8 100 tonnes in 1983. Since then, with a few exceptions, catches have recovered even if they have not reached the previous levels. Catches of silky sharks have substantially increased in the past few years peaking at 25 400 tonnes in 1994. In 1997 they were 15 000 tonnes.

Figure 10 Western Indian Ocean: chondrichthyan catches by species in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Figure 11 Western Indian Ocean: chondrichthyan catches by countries in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.2 Eastern Indian Ocean

Chondrichthyan catches have also grown remarkably in the Eastern Indian Ocean, from 18 600 tonnes in 1950 to 77 700 tonnes in 1997. The rise was particularly noticeable in the 1990s, with a growth of 75% from 1990 to 1994.

In 1997 major fishing nations in this area were India (34 400 tonnes), Indonesia (23 500 tonnes), Malaysia (6 500 tonnes), Australia (6 300 tonnes), and Thailand (5 600 tonnes).

Smooth-hounds nei and liveroil sharks are the only identified shark groups, with 3 700 tonnes and 760 tonnes, respectively, in 1997.

Figure 12 Eastern Indian Ocean: chondrichthyan catches by countries in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.3 Western Central Pacific

In the period 1984-95 Western Central Pacific was the world top fishing area for chondrichthyans. These catches have increased considerably from 4 200 tonnes in 1950 to 139 800 tonnes in 1997, which was a slight decrease as compared to 1996. The growth was particularly significant since 1970 and catches peaked at 164 900 tonnes in 1990.

Indonesia represents the main fishing nation in this area with 72 050 tonnes in 1997, followed by Taiwan Province of China with 31 700 tonnes and Malaysia with 18 200 tonnes. Indonesia has increased its fishing efforts for chondrichthyans in this area since the 1970s, with consistent growth in the 1990s and a peak of 76 200 tonnes in 1995. Catches of Taiwan Province of China showed a remarkable growth in the mid 1980s, peaking at 62 000 tonnes in 1990. Since then they have declined appreciably to reach 31 700 tonnes in 1996. Other important countries fishing in this area are Thailand and Philippines.

Liveroil sharks (Galeorhinus spp.) are the main identified sharks caught with 6 700 tonnes in 1997, reported by Malaysia only. These catches have substantially increased in the 1990s. “Elasmobranchii not identified” were at 83 700 tonnes in 1997. The rest of the catch consisted of Rajiformes.

Figure 13 Western Central Pacific: chondrichthyan catches by countries in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.4 Northwest Pacific

Northwest Pacific was until 1960 the top ranking fishing area for chondrichthyans. Catches in this area have substantially decreased from 121 700 tonnes in 1950 to 38 100 tonnes in 1997. This decline has been particularly significant since the late 1970s, corresponding with the decline of Japanese elasmobranch catches. Japan is the main fishing nation in this area and the great bulk of its elasmobranch catches traditionally come from here. Japanese chondrichthyan catches in this area have declined from 100 700 tonnes in 1950 to 24 100 tonnes in 1997, which was an increase over 16 600 tonnes in 1996. In 1997 other important fishing nations were Republic of Korea (7 200 tonnes) and Taiwan Province of China (6 300 tonnes). In 1997, 68.5% of the chondrichthyan catches in this area were unidentified Elasmobranchii.

Figure 14 Northwest Pacific: chondrichthyan catches by countries in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.5 Eastern Central Pacific

Catches of chondrichthyans in the Eastern Central Pacific have increased remarkably from 70 tonnes in 1950 to a peak of 37 500 tonnes in 1995. There has been a sustained increase in production since 1978. In 1997 they were 32 700 tonnes, which was a slight decrease as compared to 1996.

In 1997 Mexico was by far the main fishing nation for Elasmobranchii in this area with 21 400 tonnes. Other important countries were the USA (3 200 tonnes), Costa Rica (2 800 tonnes) and Japan (2 700 tonnes).

Requiem sharks represent the main shark species recorded in this area but they are identified by Mexico only. In 1997 these catches were 3 500 tonnes. In the same year 340 tonnes of dogfish sharks nei were captured by French Polynesia. In 1997, 72.6% of the catches were unidentified Elasmobranchii.

Figure 15 Eastern Central Pacific: chondrichthyan catches by countries in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.6 Northwest Atlantic

Chondrichthyan catches in Northwest Atlantic have shown an impressive rise from 600 tonnes in 1950 to 48 100 tonnes in 1997. This increase has not been regular. There was sustained growth until the mid 1970s, reaching 49 300 tonnes in 1975, followed by a considerable decline to 7 600 tonnes in 1978. In the following years there was a series of strong oscillations and a recovery in production with a record 61 400 tonnes in 1991.

The USA is the major fishing nation in this area, accounting for more than 65% of the total chondrichthyan catch in 1997 with 31 300 tonnes. In the same year other important countries in this area were Spain (9 500 tonnes), Canada (6 300 tonnes) and Portugal (900 tonnes in 1997, but 23 300 tonnes in 1991). From the mid 1960s to mid 1970s the former USSR was the largest fishing nation in this area, accounting for more than 90% of the catch.

Among the identified species, Squalidae represents the major group with 20 300 tonnes of dogfish sharks nei[13], 450 tonnes of picked dogfish and 1 300 tonnes of large sharks nei (Squaliformes) in 1997. Porbeagles (1 340 tonnes in 1997) are also important. Other identified species are nurse sharks nei (Ginglymostoma spp.), shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), sandbar shark, pelagic thresher, longfin mako (Isurus paucus) and dusky shark.

Figure 16 Northwest Atlantic: chondrichthyan catches by species in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.7 Northeast Atlantic

Chondrichthyan catches have slightly decreased from 80 300 tonnes in 1950 to 78 100 tonnes in 1997. This decline was not regular. Catches increased from 1950 to 125 700 tonnes in 1961. In the following years they exhibited limited fluctuations peaking at 127 700 tonnes in 1969. Since then they continued to fluctuate, with a more marked downward trend since 1988.

In 1997 France was the main fishing nation in the Northeast Atlantic with nearly 22 500 tonnes followed by UK with 21 400 tonnes and Spain with 15 000 tonnes. Other important countries were Portugal (6 000 tonnes), Ireland (5 100 tonnes) and Norway (2 800 tonnes). Norwegian fisheries have substantially varied since 1950 with an increasing trend up to 1963, when they peaked at 45 800 tonnes. Since there they have been several fluctuations with a consistent decline from 1981. There was a recovery in the early 1990s when they reached 12 300 tonnes in 1991.

Catches of picked dogfish have commonly accounted for the largest part of the total chondrichthyan catch in this area. In 1950 they were at 20 300 tonnes and they substantially increased in the following years up to 1960. Since then they declined to recover from a trough in the mid 1960s to peak at 49 400 tonnes in 1972. Catches declined again, with the exception of 1978, followed by an upward trend in the mid 1980s. Since the high of 43 900 tonnes in 1987 this fishery has declined considerably to 13 900 tonnes in 1997. UK represents the main fishing nation for this species with 8 700 tonnes in 1997, followed by France (1 700 tonnes), Norway (1 600 tonnes) and Ireland (1 400 tonnes). Nearly 2 400 tonnes of other not identified dogfish sharks were captured in 1997. This fishery was quite significant in the early 1950s, between 1979 and 1985 and in the last few years. The group dogfish and catsharks (Squalidae, Scyliorhinidae) is very important with 10 300 tonnes in 1997 of which 7 800 tonnes were from France, 1 400 tonnes from Portugal, 660 tonnes from UK and 430 tonnes from Belgium. These catches began to be noteworthy in 1978 and peaked at 11 200 tonnes in 1988.

Another important group is represented by “various sharks nei”, with Spain, UK and Portugal as major fishing nations. These catches were prominent in the 1950s and in the last few years when they peaked at 16 900 tonnes in 1997. Important fisheries for basking sharks existed in the 1960s, and they peaked at 18 700 tonnes in 1970. They fluctuated in the following years, reaching a low of 110 tonnes in 1995. In 1997 they were at 580 tonnes, with Norway as major fisher. Limited captures of these species are also reported from Portugal and France. Catches of porbeagles were relevant in the early 1950s and 1970s, peaking at 4 400 tonnes in 1971. They markedly declined in the following years with a recovery in the late 1970s. In 1997 they were at 380 tonnes with France and Denmark representing the main fishers. Catches of blue sharks have been reported from 1978 when they were only 4 tonnes. They have increased in the last few years, peaking at 360 tonnes in 1994. In 1997 they were 290 tonnes, nearly all from French vessels.

Figure 17 Northeast Atlantic: chondrichthyan catches by species in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.8 Western Central Atlantic

Chondrichthyan fisheries in this area, which includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the east coast of Central America and the north coast of South America, have grown from 3 900 tonnes in 1950 to 31 250 tonnes in 1997. The increase was particularly substantial in the 1980s.

Mexico is the main fishing nation operating in this area, with 14 300 tonnes in 1997, followed by Venezuela with 9 700 tonnes, Cuba with 3 300 tonnes and the USA with 3 100 tonnes. Mexican catches have increased markedly since the early 1980s.

Requiem sharks are the main shark species caught in this area with nearly 11 400 tonnes in 1997, of which 7 600 tonnes were from Venezuela and 3 800 tonnes from Mexico. These catches showed a substantial growth in the early 1980s but since then they have been fairly stable with few fluctuations. In 1997 other shark species recorded were smooth-hounds nei (27 tonnes) and dogfish (310 tonnes).

Figure 18 Western Central Atlantic: chondrichthyan catches by countries in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.9 Eastern Central Atlantic

Catches of chondrichthyans have increased substantially from 3 000 tonnes in 1950 to 31 700 tonnes in 1997. This increase has been particularly significant in the 1960s and 1970s, peaking at 42 900 MT in 1979.

In 1997 Senegal was the main fishing nation in this area with 9 000 tonnes, followed by Nigeria (6 600 tonnes), Gambia (3 200 tonnes), Morocco (2 600 tonnes), Sierra Leone (1 400 tonnes) and Portugal (1 390 tonnes).

Large sharks nei represent the main shark species identified in this area with 1 350 tonnes in 1997. In 1997 Mauritania was the leading fisher with 1 070 tonnes, followed by the Republic of Congo (280 tonnes) and Greece (2 tonnes). In the same year 51 tonnes of smooth-hounds nei were captured by Portugal and Greece and 12 tonnes of scalloped hammerhead by Guinea-Bissau.

Figure 19 Eastern Central Atlantic: chondrichthyan catches by countries in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.10 Southwest Atlantic

Catches of chondrichthyans in this area, which includes the entire eastern coast of South America, have shown an impressive increase, growing from 3 200 tonnes in 1950 to 54 900 tonnes in 1997. This growth was fairly regular, accelerating from the mid 1960s.

In the last few years Argentina has substantially increased its catches of elasmobranch in this area, becoming the leading fishing nation with 29 000 tonnes in 1997, followed by Brazil with 14 700 tonnes. In this year other important countries were Republic of Korea (5 100 tonnes) and Uruguay (4 900 tonnes).

Narrownose smooth-hound is the main shark species identified, with 9 960 tonnes in 1997 captured by Argentina. This fishery was first recorded at 900 tonnes in 1960 and has increased substantially since then, showing various fluctuations and peaking at 13 600 tonnes in 1988. In 1997 other shark species caught were angelsharks and sand devils (1 560 tonnes), blue sharks (110 tonnes), liveroil sharks (103 tonnes) and shortfin mako (20 tonnes).

Figure 20 Soutwest Atlantic: chondrichthyan catches by species in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.

3.3.11 Mediterranean and Black Sea

Chondrichthyan fisheries in this area have grown from 8 100 tonnes in 1950 to 15 200 tonnes in 1997. Production was variable and peaked at 26 400 tonnes in 1984. The early 1980s represent a period of sustained growth. In the last few years there has been a substantial decline from 23 100 tonnes in 1994 to 14 400 tonnes in 1996.

Italy is the main fishing country operating in this area, catching nearly 6 000 tonnes in 1997, a substantial decline from 12 400 tonnes in 1994. Italian catches showed notable increases in production during 1984-86 and in 1994. In 1997 other important countries were Turkey (2 080 tonnes), Greece (1 700 tonnes), Tunisia (1 900 tonnes), Egypt (1 600 tonnes) and Tunisia (1 050 tonnes).

Smooth-hounds represent the main shark species caught in this area. In 1997 they were at 3 000 tonnes of which 1 700 tonnes were from Turkey and 620 tonnes from Italy. Catches of smooth-hounds have shown several ups and downs, peaking at 14 400 tonnes in 1979 and with a marked decline in the last two years. Dogfish are also fairly important with 95 tonnes of picked dogfish and 1 070 tonnes of other dogfish in 1997. In the same year other relevant shark species were large sharks nei at 240 tonnes, catsharks and nursehounds (Scyliorhinus spp.) 118 tonnes, angelshark and sand devils (Squatinidae) with 35 tonnes, angelshark (Squatina squatina) 34 tonnes.

Figure 21 Mediterranean and Black Sea: chondrichthyan catches by countries in 1 000 tonnes, 1950-1997

Source: FAO - FIDI.


[13 ]The US catches reported to FAO as squalidae are very close to those of picked dogfish reported by the 18th Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop (NEFSC 1994).

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