What is the bycatch of vulnerable species and why do we care?


A recent incident with a Bluntnose sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus), that was incidentally caught on a tourist fishing vessel in Larnaca, received lots of attention from the media and press in Cyprus. Considering the fuss that followed, we think that it is important to provide information regarding the issue of bycatch of vulnerable species and why it is important to protect those species, in an attempt to raise awareness among the public. The incident was first recorded and published by Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre and details are available here.

Defining bycatch of vulnerable species

Bycatch is a term widely used to describe the incidental and unintentional capture of vulnerable species in fishing operations. With the term vulnerable species we refer to the species that lie within several taxonomic groups, including sea turtles, dolphins, whales, seals, seabirds, sharks and rays. The bycatch of vulnerable species is a key conservation issue in the Mediterranean Sea, but is also considered a significant threat to the profitability and sustainability of fisheries. Despite the fact that bycatch threatens the population of several species including the green turtle and the Mediterranean monk seal, little has been done to date to eliminate this problem. Understanding and quantifying the bycatch of vulnerable species and adopting effective mitigation measures are essential steps towards the reduction of incidental captures of such species and the conservation of marine ecosystems at large, thus ensuring the sustainability of the fisheries sector.

Read full article on Cyprus Mail.