Catch composition and aspects of the biology of sharks caught by Thai commercial fisheries in the Andaman Sea
Catch composition, landing patterns and biological aspects of sharks caught by commercial fishing fleet operating in the Andaman Sea were recorded from landing sites in Ranong province of Thailand over a period of 1 year. Of the 64 species previously reported in the existing Thailand checklist, only 17 species were recorded in this study. Shark landings from the Andaman Sea appear now to be dominated largely by bamboo sharks Chiloscyllium spp. (Hemiscylliidae), which contribute c. 65% of the total number of sharks recorded. The carcharhinid sharks comprised c. 30·5% to the total catch, while the remaining c. 4·5% of landings comprised sharks from the families Squalidae, Stegostomatidae, Sphyrnidae and Triakidae. The catch composition is remarkably different from the previous landing survey in 2004, in that the current study found noticeable declines in landings of slow-growing, late- maturing and low-fecundity species (especially sphyrnid and carcharhinid species). The absences of many species and changes in life-stage composition suggest that the populations of these groups may be close to collapse. The results from this study emphasize the urgency for additional research and monitoring efforts and also the need for management incentives in order to manage shark fisheries effectively in the Andaman Sea.