Pelagic sharks by-catch in Indian tuna fishery in 2018
Barring the Government owned research vessels conducting exploratory surveys, India has negligible fishing fleet exclusively targeting tunas round the year. However, small scale and artisanal sectors deploying both mechanized and motorized boats (all less than 24 m OAL) using a variety of gear largely contribute to the tuna fishery. This fishery, fishing exclusively within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), occasionally records pelagic sharks as bycatch. The total catch of pelagic sharks by this fishery during 2018 was 959.27 t. Drift longline was the main gear contributing the pelagic shark bycatch (96.11%), followed by gillnet (2.92), handline (0.65). The status of pelagic shark stocks in the Indian seas are constantly monitored employing four research vessels of Fishery Survey of India (FSI). Detailed studies on the biological aspects of major species including silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), pelagic thresher (Alopias pelagicus), bigeye thresher (A. superciliosus), oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier), shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), longfin mako (I. paucus) and blue shark (Prionace glauca) resulted in gathering valuable information on size structure, diet and reproduction of these species.