By ElasmoCatch

The project By ElasmoCatch focuses on studying the biodiversity of elasmobranchs in Greece and its interactions with fisheries.

Τhe project started in 2020 and continued during 2021 collecting bycatch data including observations, measurements, and samples from the north Aegean Sea. In 2022 the third year of the project, the methodologies used in previous years will be implemented in another important study area, the Ambracian Gulf, eastern Greece. All sampling regarding bycatch is done according to an adjusted protocol based on “Monitoring the Incidental catch of Vulnerable Species” produced by FAO. In addition to the bycatch data, biological information such as morphometrics, maturity and genetic samples are collected.

The Ambracian Gulf is a semi-closed bay (405km2) that communicates with the Ionian Sea through the Preveza Channel; a narrow (minimum width of 370 m) and shallow (2–12 m deep) 3 km-long corridor. On average, the Gulf is approximately 30 m (maximum 60 m) deep. The substrate of the Gulf is mostly muddy or sandy, which supports a rich biodiversity. The area is of high ecological importance because of the presence of sea turtles, dolphins and a wide variety of birds. In terms of elasmobranchs, there hasn’t been a lot of studies, but presence of vulnerable elasmobranch species has been reported in the gulf (Zogaris, and Dussling, 2010). Citizen science data furthermore supports the importance of the area for elasmobranchs with dozens of species observations in the last 5 years. 

Finally, during the project in 2022 modified fishing equipment will be tested for its effectiveness to mitigate elasmobranch bycatch, while at the same time research to assess the effects of bycatch to the health of caught individuals will be conducted by estimating the post release mortality using tagging.

Project’s Team

Coordinator: Roxani Naasan Aga – Spyridopoulou

Data collection: Roxani Naasan Aga – Spyridopoulou, Georgios Rallis