Can a Novel Genetic Approach Improve Shortfin Mako Shark Management in the Atlantic Ocean?

Can a Novel Genetic Approach Improve Shortfin Mako Shark Management in the Atlantic Ocean?

Often encountered as bycatch in offshore fisheries targeting tunas and swordfish, the shortfin mako shark was recently assessed as overfished and experiencing unsustainable harvest levels in the Atlantic Ocean. The data used to estimate the species’ abundance and trends primarily come from fishing activities. Unfortunately, these data are not collected uniformly throughout the species’ range, and their accuracy cannot always be verified. This uncertainty can hinder effective conservation and management strategies.

The Lenfest Ocean Program is supporting Dr. Mark Bravington at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) to investigate whether a new genetic method called close-kin mark-recapture can help improve the accuracy of stock assessments for shortfin makos in the North and South Atlantic Ocean. Because this method does not rely on fishery data, it could be used to create unbiased, standardized estimates of population status, improving management approaches and outcomes.

Shark Conservation Fund is providing additional support for this project.

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