Hooks equipped with magnets can increase catches of blue shark (Prionace glauca) by longline fishery
Blue shark (Prionace glauca) populations are decreasing worldwide and the species is currently classified as near threatened. However, it is the main species caught by the Spanish and Portuguese longline fisheries; and blue shark is specifically targeted by a part of these fleets in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. Sharks are well known to be able to detect electric fields in the microvolt range and this sense has been proposed to provide a mechanism to detect the earth's magnetic field. As a result, the use of magnets has been proposed as a method to reduce shark interactions with fishing gear. We therefore tested two models of high field strength neodymium magnets to effect shark catch rates during commercial longline fishing operations. Our results show that magnets do not reduce blue shark catch rates and can even have an attractive effect. This effect was significantly higher for the larger magnet model tested (26 mm × 11 mm × 12 mm, 0.885 T) compared to the smaller one (20 mm × 13 mm × 15 mm, 0.464 T). We also noted that hooks remain magnetized after removal of the magnets and are even slightly magnetized without any previous contact with a magnet.