The main purpose of this project is to collect important information on the spatial ecology of the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) in the Northeast Atlantic using satellite tags.
Why this is important:
The porbeagle shark is an important component of the Northeast Atlantic ecosystem, but the species is vulnerable to population depletion due to its complicated lifecycle characteristics and unsustainable fishing activities. Despite its vulnerability, there are presently no robust management or conservation strategies for the porbeagle in this region.
The need for this project was identified during recent elasmobranch and ecosystem management meetings conducted by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and the International Convention for Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). These meeting revealed a paucity of data on porbeagle distribution, abundance and horizontal migration regimes in the Northeast Atlantic, and highlighted a pressing need for fisheries-independent data on this vulnerable species. The need for a fisheries-independent abundance index survey on porbeagles was particularly emphasised in order to assess the state of porbeagle stocks in the region so that effective management could be devised. However, it was noted that the species occupies a wide distributional range in the Northeast Atlantic and that the main centres of stock-distribution was unknown, making it difficult to establish robust sampling sites for such an abundance survey.
The Marine Institute, in collaboration with Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), French Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) and Association for the Conservation of Sharks (APECS), identified the utility of using satellite tracking methods to establish the main centres of porbeagle distribution within the Northeast Atlantic to address this problem and to gain new insight into the species habitat preferences that might bee useful for establishing Marine Protected Areas. Furthermore, the porbeagle is arguably one of most understudied, iconic marine predator that resides in the Northeast Atlantic. Ireland has important concentrations of porbeagles where they are often found frequently around the northwest coast during the summer months. The region also has a strong recreational angling community for gamefish, such as pelagic sharks, providing a unique opportunity to study porbeagles using satellite tags and involve local anglers/fishermen in concrete conservation action. Furthermore, the MI has strong links with the Irish Elasmobranch Group, providing an excellent media outlet for raising conservation awareness for the species and enhancing the profile of our research.
Aims and Objectives
Our project will gain new data on porbeagle horizontal movement patterns, habitat preference and diving behaviour that will lead to effective, long-term conservation measures for the species throughout its distributional range. Our project also aims to raise invaluable conservation awareness for the species by communicating results to a wide range of target audiences, such as the general public, policy managers and the fishing industry.
The general aim of the project is to deploy satellite tags on porbeagle sharks around Ireland. Data from these platforms will enable us to:
- Gain new insight into porbeagle migration, diving behaviour and habitat preference of porbeagles in the Northeast Atlantic.
- Determine the parturition and nursery grounds of porbeagles by tagging mature females.
- Understand the movement pattern of the species in relation to commercial fisheries to assess the possible impact of porbeagle-fishery interactions.
- Underpin the population boundaries of the species to ensure robust assessment and management.
- Raise conservation awareness for porbeagles through regular, high-impact media communication.
The recent listing of porbeagle on Appendix II of CITES is an important milestone on the road to the recovery of this vulnerable top predator. Being a migratory species, it will require cooperation between countries and regional fisheries organisations. Our…
There was some exciting news in the porbeagle project over the weekend as our second 2012 PAT tag popped off and is now transmitting data. This tag belonged to Alex who was tagged on the 6th August 2012 off Malin…
Some more exciting news from the probeagle project. Charlie’s PAT tag has just popped up in the Bay of Biscay and is transmitting data. Its about 200 km offshore and is drifting west so it is unlikely that we’ll get…
Our tagging study has begun to uncover the large-scale migrations of porbeagles within the northeast Atlantic, which further highlights the susceptibility of this critically endangered species to further exploitation. March 2013 represents an important month for the future conservation of…
Since our last post we have been keeping a close watch for transmissions from Ellie and she hasn’t disappointed. She has continued to swim north along the shelf break west of Ireland and has been surfacing regularly. Her return journey…