Shark interactions in pelagic longline fisheries
Substantial ecological, economic and social problems result from shark interactions in pelagic longline fisheries. Improved understanding of industry attitudes and practices towards shark interactions assists with managing these problems. Information on fisher knowledge and new strategies for shark avoidance may benefit sharks and fishers. A study of 12 pelagic longline fisheries from eight countries shows that incentives to avoid sharks vary along a continuum, based on whether sharks represent an economic disadvantage or advantage. Shark avoidance practices are limited, including avoiding certain areas, moving when shark interaction rates are high, using fish instead of squid for bait and deeper setting. Some conventionally employed fishing gear and methods used to target non-shark species contribute to shark avoidance. Shark repellents hold promise; more research and development is needed. Development of specifically designed equipment to discard sharks could improve shark post release survival prospects, reduce gear loss and improve crew safety. With expanding exploitation of sharks for fins and meat, improved data collection, monitoring and precautionary shark management measures are needed to ensure that shark fishing mortality levels are sustainable.