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What impact does catch and release fishing have on sharks?

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catch and release fishing

Catching fish with the sole purpose of release is seen by some as an alternative to catch-and-kill fishing, and has become a popular recreational activity in itself. Sharks are often the target, and given their ecological importance, it’s important to consider any potential impacts that this style of fishing may have.

Data regarding mortality rates of catch and release on sharks are scant, however it’s estimated that mortality from capture from scientific research is ~10 % for sharks in general, and may be higher for sport fishing due to longer ‘fight’ times and extended time out of the water. Indeed, a study of juvenile lemon sharks in the Bahamas, found that ~12 % of released sharks died in the 15 minute monitoring period following release, and on the east coast of Australia 6 out of 8 necropsied grey nurse sharks were found to have internal hooks despite having no external signs of fishing gear. Severe injuries and infections have been documented in grey nurse sharks as a result of catch and release, although the long term sub lethal impacts of such maladies are unclear.

catch and release fishing

Sharks are keystone predators that have a disproportionate influence on the health and stability of their environments, and globally their numbers are in decline. While it’s not clear whether injuries or the relatively low mortality rates from recreational fishing can affect marine ecosystems as whole, current data suggests that outcomes for sharks can be improved with shortened fight and handling times. As scuba-enthusiasts and stewards of the ocean, it’s up to us to make a conscious effort to interact with the ocean and its inhabitants in a way that’s not destructive, and that may mean modifying the way we approach even catch and release fishing.

 Find out more about the work that Dr. Kelli Anderson is involved in at www.mymarineconnection.org.

Photos by John Gransbury taken at Fish Rock Cave, South West Rocks, New South Wales, Australia.

Dr. Kelli Anderson is a marine biologist who has worked on aquaculture and marine conservation projects in several countries including Australia, France, the United States and Madagascar. Kelli has also worked as a commercial diver and divemaster, is a keen underwater photographer, and runs a small non-profit based in Australia.

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Staci-lee Sherwood about how light pollution in Florida is harming sea turtle hatchlings (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Staci-lee Sherwood, Founder & Former Director of S.T.A.R.S – Sea Turtle Awareness Rescue Stranding – about Florida’s latest assault on sea turtles and why the global community should be concerned.

You can read more about this issue in a blog written by Staci-lee on Scubaverse here.

Find out more about Staci-lee on Instagram and YouTube @realitycheckswithstacilee


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Marine Biologist, Underwater Photographer and Author Paul Naylor (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Paul Naylor about his new book Great British Marine Animals (4th Edition). You can read Jeff’s review of the book here.

Paul is a marine biologist and underwater photographer with a passion for showing people what beautiful and fascinating animals live around the British coast, through articles, talks, films, social media and TV, as well as his latest book.

The creatures’ intriguing behaviour and colourful life stories are the particular focus of his still photography and video, both for scientific research and engaging audiences.

Paul works with conservation organisations and the media to raise the profile of our wonderful marine life and the importance of caring for our seas.

Find out more about Paul and his work at www.marinephoto.co.uk


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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