The Effect of Circle Hooks on Shark Catchability and At-Vessel Mortality Rates in Longlines Fisheries
Circle hooks have gained recent attention as a cost-effective bycatch mitigation tool in pelagic longline fisheries, particularly for marine turtles. Over the last few years, a growing number of studies have investigated the use of circle hooks and their effects on other species, including elasmobranchs. To elucidate the potential value of circle hook use as a tool for shark conservation and management in pelagic longline fisheries, we conducted a quantitative review of all available studies to date. We compiled 15 published and eight gray literature studies and where possible used random effects meta-analysis and analysis of covariance to test the effects of circle hooks on catchability and at-vessel mortality rates. Overall, results suggest that using circle hooks on pelagic longlines do not have a major effect on shark catch rates, but do reduce at-vessel mortality compared to J-hooks. Thus circle hooks should be seen as one potential tool to help reduce bycatch mortality of sharks in longline fisheries. However, the high level of heterogeneity found between studies highlights the need for shark-specific controlled experiments to provide more definitive results.