Common thresher shark
Codes of conduct: Shark encounters
Table of contents:
Codes of conduct
Handling Guidelines for Recreational Fishers
Handling Guidelines for Commercial Fishers and Aquaculture Operators
Shark populations are generally vulnerable to the threat of fishing induced mortality, including incidental capture and entanglement. Life history characteristics such as longevity, late age-at-maturity and low fecundity make it difficult for shark populations to recover in abundance after depletion. Of the fourteen species of sharks that utilize Canadian Pacific waters, three are listed under the Canadian Species at Risk Act. The Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is listed as “Endangered”, and the Bluntnose Sixgill Shark (Hexanchus griseus) and Tope Shark (Galeorhinus galeus) ) are listed as species of “Special Concern”. Note that Species at Risk Act prohibitions only apply to species listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened; thus, they do not apply to species of special concern. The primary threats to these shark species have been identified as bycatch and entanglement. The other eleven Canadian Pacific shark species are also vulnerable to these threats. In order to address the conservation concerns with shark species within Canadian Pacific waters, it is important that measures are taken to reduce the mortality of sharks resulting from bycatch and entanglement in Canadian waters.
Currently, there is no directed commercial fishery for shark species other than the North Pacific Spiny Dogfish (Squalus suckleyi) in Canadian Pacific waters, and only North Pacific Spiny Dogfish and Salmon Shark (Lamna ditropis) are permitted to be retained in the recreational fishery. Commercial fisheries are no longer permitted to retain Species at Risk Act listed shark species − all bycatch for these species is to be released at sea with the least possible harm. Catch limits for the recreational fishery have been reduced to “no fishing” for all species listed under the Species at Risk Act, and “zero retention” (catch and release) for all other shark species except Salmon Shark and North Pacific Spiny Dogfish Footnote1.
This Code of Conduct for Shark Encounters has been developed to reduce the mortality of Canadian Pacific shark species, such as Bluntnose Sixgill and Tope Shark Footnote2, as well as all other species resulting from entanglement and bycatch in commercial, aquaculture and recreational fisheries. However, it does not apply to Basking Shark, for which a separate Code of Conduct has been developed. Although the handling guidelines may be useful for fishers wishing to release Salmon Shark and North Pacific Spiny Dogfish, the Code of Conduct does not apply to the directed fisheries for those species.
All aquaculture operators, recreational fishers, and commercial fishers that unintentionally encounter Bluntnose Sixgill Shark, Tope Shark, or any other shark species (with the exception of North Pacific Spiny Dogfish, Salmon Shark and Basking Shark) are encouraged to follow the steps listed below to reduce mortality or harm and increase the chances of survival of captured sharks.
Document and report all encounters.
1) Document – Document as many details of the encounter as possible.
- Photograph the shark, where possible without negatively impacting the shark. Good quality photographs of dorsal fins can be used for species identification and identification of individual sharks.
- If you are on a commercial vessel and there are Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) staff or an observer onboard, inform them immediately of the interaction. They will assess whether biological samples can be safely taken and may attempt to take biological samples from the shark.
2) Report – Report all Bluntnose Sixgill, Tope Shark, or other shark encounters with the following details:
- Photograph(s) or video of the shark, including the dorsal fin;
- Date of the encounter and time of day;
- Location (as specific as possible, e.g. positional GPS data);
- Estimates of the total length and sex (males have claspers, see Figure 2) of the shark(s);
- Any distinguishing features (e.g. colour, scars), behaviours, visible wounds, and the swimming ability of the shark post-release (see below for more details); and
- Your name and contact information (voluntary).
Commercial fishers: Report all shark encounters in your fishing logbook by species as per the commercial fishing conditions of license. Report the above-listed details in your logbook, where possible, for all sharks other than North Pacific Spiny Dogfish.
Recreational fishers and aquaculture operators: Report all shark encounters (other than North Pacific Spiny Dogfish) to the local Fisheries Officer or e-mail your report to [email protected] with “shark encounter” in the subject heading. Please refer to above background section for catch restrictions and limits in recreational fisheries.