New publication about angel sharks in the Aegean

Angel sharks are among the most threatened species of sharks globally. In the Mediterranean Sea, three species are present; Squatina aculeataSquatina oculata, and Squatina squatina, all listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to the steep decline of their populations as a result of their overexploitation by fisheries.

In an effort to actively contribute to the conservation of angel sharks in the Eastern Mediterranean, iSea with the collaboration of experts from 15 institutions and under the support of the Shark Conservation Fund but also the Save Our Sea Foundation, conducted a study with the aim to define critical areas for the three species in the Aegean Sea. Using all the available observations of the species and by performing some models, locations around Cyclades islands, between Chios Island and the coast of Turkey, areas in Dodecanese islands and the coast of Turkey and the Northern coasts of Crete identified as the most important areas for angel sharks within the Aegean Sea.

As a next step the current network of Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries Restricted Areas in Greece and Turkey was examined for overlapping with the critical areas identified, in an effort to prioritise future conservation efforts in critical areas that management measures already applied.  Five protected areas from Turkey found to overlap with the critical angel shark areas, while no overlap was observed with protected areas in Greece.

The gravel conservation status of the three angel shark species and the lack of overlap between its current distribution and the protected areas network in the Aegean, highlights the urgency for measures, especially because almost all the recent observations of the species are fished individuals.

Protected areas targeting elasmobranchs are currently completely absent within the Mediterranean, while the current protected areas network seems that cannot support the protection of such species. Therefore, new tool must be developed (e.g. Important Shark and Ray Areas) or old underutilised to be used (e.g. Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance) for supporting the efforts for conserving angels sharks in the basin.

Finally the study provide policy recommendations for Greece and Turkey, that can secure better protection of angel sharks in the Aegean sea.

Find the published article here