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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 Blogs

NEW: White Shark Interest Group Podcast Series – #003 – TOUCHING SHARKS

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Third in an exciting podcast series from Ricardo Lacombe of the White Shark Interest Group.

Episode 3 of the White Shark Interest Group Podcast, Facebook’s largest White Shark specific group, covering science, conservation, news, photography, video and debate.

This episode features Melissa, Dirk, Javier and Ricardo discussing TOUCHING SHARKS and FREEDIVING WITH SHARKS. Is it OK to touch sharks? Does it do damage to the shark? What are the benefits of it for shark conservation efforts? How do modern day social media personalities like Ocean Ramsey differ from the pioneers who began the practice of touching and diving with Great Whites, like Andre Hartman, Michael Rutzen or Manny Puig? Always a hot topic!

Click the links below to listen to the podcast series on the following audio channels:


Join the group: www.facebook.com/groups/whitesharkinterestgroup/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/whiteshark_interestgroup/

Website: www.whitesharkinterestgroup.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

Review: David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

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Regular contributors, CJ & Mike from Bimble in the Blue, review the Netlix documentary: David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

David Attenborough’s latest and arguably most important documentary to date is now showing on Netflix.  It is, in his own words, his “witness statement” of a unique life exploring and documenting the wonders of the natural world.

Attenborough looks back and realizes that the previously gradual changes he witnessed (animal species becoming harder to find and fewer wild spaces) have now become vastly more widespread and noticeable. As the human population increased, so has the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, while the amount of wilderness has decreased.  His conclusion: human activity and man-made climate change have accelerated the pace of biodiversity loss.  This not only imperils the majority of natural habitats and creatures on Earth, but also the very future of humankind.

From images of lush green landscapes we journey with him over time to revisit these places, now wastelands. One of the most haunting is the contrast between early footage of orangutans swinging through the rainforest, to recent images of an orangutan clinging onto a lone tree devoid of all but one branch in the wreckage of a deforested site. Attenborough then makes a statement that has stuck with me since watching “A Life On This Planet”: that though we undoubtably have an obligation to care for the natural world, it’s not just about saving other species.  It is about saving ourselves.  His drive and determination to advocate and spread this message as much as possible at the age of 94 is both impressive and humbling, yet Attenborough manages to make this serious subject an unexpectedly positive learning experience.

In the final chapter of the movie Attenborough turns from the bleak reality of the destruction of Earth’s biodiversity, and offers a lifeline of hope and positivity. We can, he tells us, reverse the damage we have caused, we can save our species and the wonders of the natural world, and it can be done with just a few conceptually simple actions.  It’s enough to enthuse even the most jaded and pessimistic of conservationists!  Attenborough has an amazing ability to awaken our love of the natural world and now he shows us our future is in our hands. It’s time to act.  But we must start now and it must be a united effort.

You don’t have to be a scuba diver to be impressed with the eloquence of David Attenborough’s words, or his powerful yet simple message. We are self-confessed Attenborough super fans, but I don’t think anyone could contest that this is a stunning 1 hour and 20 minutes of hard hitting brilliance. The film closes with the comment, “Who else needs to see it?” The answer is all of us.  We highly recommend this documentary to everyone. Put simply if you watch no other documentary this year, watch this one.

For more from CJ and Mike please visit their website here.

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