Global hotspots of shark interactions with industrial longline fisheries
Sharks are susceptible to industrial longline fishing due to their slow life histories and association with targeted tuna stocks. Identifying fished areas with high shark interaction risk is vital to protect threatened species. We harmonize shark catch records from global tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (tRFMOs) from 2012–2020 and use machine learning to identify where sharks are most threatened by longline fishing. We find shark catch risk hotspots in all ocean basins, with notable high-risk areas off Southwest Africa and in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. These patterns are mostly driven by more common species such as blue sharks, though risk areas for less common, Endangered and Critically Endangered species are also identified. Clear spatial patterns of shark fishing risk identified here can be leveraged to develop spatial management strategies for threatened populations. Our results also highlight the need for coordination in data collection and dissemination by tRFMOs for effective shark management.