|Date||20 Apr 2015|
Chondrichthyans more popularly known as sharks, rays and chimaeras are one of the top predators in marine ecosystems. Knowledge of their general biology, and especially on their reproduction, is scarce when compared with other marine vertebrates. Existing studies all around the world focus on a few of the most popular or commercially important species.
This project will build important data to help us understand the abundance of these cartilaginous species throughout the Turkish coasts. In Turkish seas, there are 66 cartilaginous species (32 selachii, 33 batoid, and 1 chimaera) which represents 75% of the total chondrichthyan species found in the Mediterranean and 12% of the fish fauna of Turkey. Almost half of these species are listed by IUCN as Near Threatened, Critically Endangered, or Vulnerable and of the remaining species a further 15 are Data Deficient. There aren't current conservation or management measures focusing on chondrichthyans in Turkey, although there are well known nursery grounds for certain species. Fisheries activities are intensively done throughout Turkey and while chondrichthyans are not specifically targeted they are caught frequently as by-catch.
Research in to shark and ray species in Turkey is limited and mostly focuses on their morphology, length-weight relationships with a few studies on their diets and reproduction biology. Main threats to their populations are; increasing competition for habitat space, human impacts on sensitive reproduction areas, pollution, and fishing pressure. By studying population genetics and identifying relationships between populations from different regions around Turkey we will generate important new information on these charismatic and endangered species in the eastern Mediterranean. We will also generate critical data on the reproduction biology. Using participatory methods and opportunistic sampling of by-caught sharks and rays, we will generate quantitative data to advise conservation and management plans. We hope that through increasing levels of awareness of the local fishing communities, by catch rates will be reduced by the use of the most selective gear types.
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