Shark Bycatch

Fisheries managers have become increasingly alarmed at the recent reductions in open ocean predators. Recent studies have shown that populations of oceanic sharks have suffered precipitous declines, in part because of bycatch in the pelagic longline fishery. Recent estimates place blue shark bycatch at approximately 57,000 tons in the North Atlantic Canadian swordfishery. Our approach to solving the shark bycatch problem in the pelagic longline fishery is to exploit the differences between the shark and target species tooth morphology and jaw strength. We have already conducted preliminary tests of a new leader that will allow sharks to self-release while retaining the target species. Our research team is currently investigating a number of additional approaches to reducing shark byatch.