Assessment of catch and bycatch of guitarfishes in Peruvian waters

  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2021
  • Active
Project types
  • Conservation
  • Research
  • Areas Costeras y Recursos Marinos (ACOREMA)

Mercedes is visiting the ports and fish landing sites of twelve ports in Peru. She records and collects samples as the fishers unload their catches, searching for guitarfishes. Mercedes is keen to work with the natural curiosity of the fishers who want to know more about her work and use these interactions to get more information and involve fishers in this research. This way, her project can provide an understanding of how and where guitarfishes are being caught along the Peruvian coast.

Assessment of catch and bycatch of guitarfishes in Peruvian waters

Elizabeth Gutiérrez Llanos

Project leader
About the project leader

My first experience of marine species was when I was a child. I saw a sticker placed on my refrigerator that showed a dolphin with a cross and a message that said ‘Don’t eat muchame‘. It took me several years to learn what ‘muchame‘ meant, which refers to a way of preparing dolphin meat in Peru. It was wonderful how this little message made me wonder about other marine species that were not as charismatic as dolphins. My curiosity and the desire to learn more about marine species every day led me to study a career in science and fisheries...

Project details

Assessment of catch and bycatch of guitarfishes in Peruvian waters

Key objective

Record information about the fishery and trade of guitarfish in Peru, and know which species are involved in order to generate proper management of these species in Peru.

Why is this important

The National Plan for the Conservation and Management of Elasmobranchs in Peru is in the process of review and implementation. However, we know little about guitarfish, and although landings of these species remain low it has an important role within the ecosystem. Moreover, it is not confirmed how many species are involved, which is necessary for management measures. The research is aimed to fill these information gaps and contribute to the conservation of these elasmobranch species.


Peru has registered five species of guitarfishes. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species four of them are listed as Data Deficient and one as Near Threatened.  Guitarfish are caught mainly during the southern summer by fishers working along the Peruvian coast. These species have been eaten from ancient times to the present day, and guitarfish is one of the most requested traditional dishes in northern Peru. However, although the literature identifies the presence of five species in Peru, we do not know all species which are caught by fishers, or if the current levels of landings are affecting guitarfish populations. Data gaps about the correct identification of guitarfish and their fisheries make it difficult to apply adequate fisheries management. Therefore, this project aims to generate a baseline on the correct identification and fisheries data of guitarfish, so that they can be incorporated into the National Action Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, Rays and related species in Peru (NAP Peru). It also aims to study future trends so that decision makers can address the problem and propose fisheries management measures to ensure fishery sustainability.  However, the use of guitarfishes provides economic income to artisanal fishers at several locations, so any conservation measure proposed also needs to take into account the effects that this can represent for humans.

Aims & objectives
  • Characterise the artisanal fishery (fleet size, types of gear, fishing areas, etc.) of guitarfish species in the major landing ports of the Peruvian coast.
  • Identify and collect biological information (meristic data, sex ratio and size composition) of guitarfish species landings.
  • Describe the value chain and consumption preferences of guitarfish species.