WCPFC and ABNJ Tuna Project Co-Sponsored Pacific Shark Life History Expert Panel Meets in Cairns
Cairns, Australia – 30 April 2015
Inputs on age, growth and reproduction are often critical determinants of stock assessments, yet such data are lacking or highly uncertain for even the most common of shark species. An expert panel met from 28-30 April in Cairns, Australia to review life history information for the fourteen WCPFC key shark species, many of which are now subject to international conservation and management regulations. In some ways these regulations make biological sampling and analysis of these species more difficult. This increases the importance of identifying whether existing information is sufficient and if not, underlines the need for careful planning of further studies.
The Panel compiled and reviewed a worldwide database of over 220 studies on blue, mako, silky, oceanic whitetip, thresher, hammerhead and whale shark species. Matrices showing over a dozen of the most important life history parameters and their uncertainties and caveats were constructed for each species. The panel then provided guidance on the prioritization of further studies, use of the parameters in stock assessment, and overcoming difficulties in sample collection. The report of the expert panel will be submitted to the WCPFC Scientific Committee meeting in August for review and comment.
The panel was convened by the ABNJ Tuna Project with financial support for participants travel and expenses provided by WCPFC, and venue and on-site support provided by James Cook University’s Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture. The panel was chaired by Shelley Clarke (ABNJ Tuna Project Technical Coordinator-Sharks and Bycatch) and comprised of experts Rui Coelho (EU-Portugal), Malcolm Francis (New Zealand), Kwang-Ming Liu (Chinese Taipei), Colin Simpfendorfer (Australia) and Javier Tovar-Avila (Mexico). Suzy Kohin (United States) and Mikihiko Kai (Japan) participated via a live voice link. Appreciation is extended to the national authorities who supported their participant’s time on this project and to JCU students Cassie Rigby and Jonathan Smart who provided rapporteuring services.