It is with much pleasure that the FAO has taken the opportunity to fund the printing and distribution of this manual, which is published jointly by the Fisheries Department of the FAO and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The FAO has earlier published a guide for the implementation of its International Plan of Action - Sharks that was prepared by Dr Terry Walker of the Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Victoria, Australia. This publication provides a synoptic guide to the goals and requirements for fisheries authorities to start addressing the needs for the management of national elasmobranch fisheries; it has been prepared in a highly condensed style consistent with the other sister publications in the same series. The present, far more comprehensive manual, edited by John A. (Jack) Musick and Ramón Bonfil, provides detailed information for the operational fisheries manager about methods to collect and analyse data necessary to assess stocks and prepare plans to sustainably manage elasmobranch fisheries.
This manual begins by establishing the objectives of fisheries management and then provides information about shark and ray identification with a key to families and a guide to regional keys. Tagging methods are then reviewed including tag data analyses. A chapter on stock structure and identification follows outlining genetic methods in particular. Two chapters respectively deal in detail with methods necessary to determine age and growth rates in sharks, and to define reproductive biology. Another chapter describes methods to estimate mortality. All of these subjects are required in order to move on to demographic modelling and stock assessments which are covered in the subsequent chapters. Data collection in the field is covered in the next two chapters, one on fishery dependent and the other on fishery independent sampling. The manual ends with chapters on management techniques, and shark utilization.
Collectively, the authors have produced a manual that will be invaluable not only to those involved in management of these highly diverse and fascinating fishes and their fisheries, but also to the reader whose responsibilities extends beyond the direct involvement of resources analysis and who is involved in the management of other groups of fishes. For this, the editors and authors deserve gratitude and compliments from those who will benefit from their experience, wisdom and endeavours.
Focal Point, FAO International Plan of Action - Sharks
Marine Resources Service, Fisheries Department
1 FAO. 2000. Fisheries management. 1. Conservation and management of sharks. FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. No. 4, Suppl. 1. Rome, FAO. 37p.