Overview of world elasmobranch fisheries


Ramón Bonfil
Instituto Nacional de la Pesca
Progreso, Yucatán, Mexico

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

ISBN 92-5-103566-0

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the Director, Publications Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome, 1994


Elasmobranchs are interesting both from a scientific perspective and because of the characteristics their biology poses for their management. They may be associated with other major fisheries and often fail to get the attention they deserve. This publication is a contribution to reducing the oversight that is so often the misfortune of this group. We hope that the overview and detailed regional descriptions will help both the worker at the regional level as well as those involved in overall syntheses.


FAO Fisheries Department
FAO Regional Fishery Officers
Marine Sciences (General)


Access to otherwise unobtainable published and unpublished data and information on the particular elasmobranch fisheries of their countries/regions is gratefully acknowledged to the following persons: Mr. Leonardo Castillo, Instituto Nacional de la Pesca, Mexico City, Mexico; Dr. Che - Tsung Chen, National Taiwan Ocean University; Dr. Pauline Dayaratne, National Aquatic Resources Agency, Colombo, Sri Lanka; Mr. Shigeto Hase, North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, Vancouver, Canada; Dr. David Holts, National Marine Fisheries Service, La Jolla, USA; Dr. Rosangela Lessa, Universidade Federal Rural do Pernanbuco, Recife, Brazil; Mr. Julio Morón, Indo - Pacific Tuna Development and Management Programme, Colombo, Sri Lanka; Dr. Ramón Muñoz - Chápuli, University of Málaga, Spain; Dr. Sigmund Myklevoll, Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, Norway; Mr. Larry J. Paul, MAF Fisheries, Wellington, N.Z.; Ms. Chee Phaik Ean, Fisheries Research Institute at Penang, Malaysia; Dr. Andrew Richards, Mr. Paul Tauriki and Mr. Paul V. Nichols, Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara, Solomon Islands; Mr. Pairoj Saikliang, Depart of Fisheries, Bangkok, Thailand; Dr. Carolus M. Vooren, Universidade do Rio Grande, Brazil; Ms. Pouchamarn Wongsawang, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center Samutprakarn, Thailand.

Dr. Timothy A. Lawson, South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia, kindly contributed maps for some figures. Dr. Tony Pitcher gave useful ideas on early drafts of this document. Dr. David Die, FAO Rome, provided helpful comments to this document as well as valuable data. Dr. Kent Carpenter and Dr. Richard Grainger, FAO, Rome provided helpful technical assistance and gave access to the FAO fisheries statistical database.

Ms. Alida Bundy kindly gave useful comments to the final version of the text. My final thanks go to Mrs. Ratana Chuenpagdee for all her assistance in the collection of data, preparation of figures and tables and final editing and typing of the review.

Hyperlinks to non-FAO Internet sites do not imply any official endorsement of or responsibility for the opinions, ideas, data or products presented at these locations, or guarantee the validity of the information provided. The sole purpose of links to non-FAO sites is to indicate further information available on related topics.



1.1 Background to Elasmobranch Fisheries

1.2 A Note on Taxonomy


2.1 The Official Statistics

2.1.1 Catches by FAO Major Fishing Areas

2.1.2 Catches by countries

2.2 Major Fisheries for Elasmobranchs

2.2.1 America USA Mexico Peru Brazil Argentina

2.2.2 Europe Norway Former USSR United Kingdom Ireland France Spain Italy

2.2.3 Africa and Indian subcontinent Nigeria Pakistan India Sri Lanka

2.2.4 Asia Japan South Korea People's Republic of China Taiwan (Prov. of China) Philippines Thailand Malaysia Indonesia

2.2.5 Australian subcontinent Australia New Zealand

2.3 By catches and Discards of Elascobranchs at sea

2.3.1 Drift gillnet fisheries North Pacific Ocean

Salmon fishery

Flying squid fishery

Large-mesh driftnet fishery South Pacific Ocean Indian Ocean Atlantic Ocean Overview of driftnet fisheries

2.3.2 Longline fisheries Atlantic Ocean Indian Ocean Tropical and South Pacific North Pacific Overview of longline fisheries

2.3.3 Purse seine fisheries

2.3.4 Other miscellaneous fisheries

2.3.5 Overview Species of elasmobranchs under pressure from high seas fisheries


3.1 Current Situation of Elasmobranch Fisheries

3.2 Problems for the Assessment and Management of Elasmobranch Fisheries

3.2.1 Biology and Fisheries Theory

3.2.2 Multiplicity of species and Gears

3.2.3 Economics, Shark, "finning" and Baseline information

3.3 Conservation of Elasmobranchs