The Common Angelshark or Monkfish (Squatina squatina)
The conservation status from Squatina squatina was classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ during the most recent evaluation, version 2015, of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. However, similar to the evaluation from 2006, there is an urgent need to confirm its status in the Canary Islands, the southern Mediterranean Sea, and other areas where subpopulations may still persist.
Other organizations that provide information related to the conservation status of the species are:
- The European Red List of Marine Fishes, which is based on the IUCN regional Red Listing guidelines, evaluated the species as ‘Critically Endangered’. However, this list does not include the details available in the list of the IUCN.
- The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea declared the species extinct in the North Sea in the year 2005.
- The OSPAR Commission added Squatina squatina to the OSPAR list of threatened and/or declining species and habitats in 2008.
All organisations recommend taking urgent conservation measures for the remnant populations in their respective areas of operation, and to study their population size and tendencies. In this sense, ElasmoCan team members have developed different studies about fundamental aspects for angelshark management and conservation.
Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) included 3 species of angelsharks in the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The document, in which researchers from NOAA and reviewers from Angel Shark Project collected information during 12 months, included the common angelshark (Squatina squatina). The importance of our research is reflected by the amount of information contributed by the members of ElasmoCan to this document.
Fisheries protection regulation
The Royal Decree 2200/1986 prohibits trawling fisheries and related techniques to which angelsharks are very susceptible. This was an important step forward towards a sustainable fishery.
The European Council Regulation 43/2009 of 16 Januari 2009 specifies that “Catches of the angelshark shall be promptly released unharmed to the extent practicable in all waters from the European Community”. In the year 2010 this regulation was extended to “It shall be prohibited for European Union and third-country vessels to fish for, to retain on board, to tranship and to land the angelshark (Squatina squatina) in all waters from the European Community” (23/2010). This regulation was maintained and ratified in the following regulations 57/2011, 44/2012, 40/2013 and 43/2014. The recent regulations 2015/104, 2016/72, 2017/127 and 2018/120 are more specific about the origin of the catches “It shall be prohibited for Union vessels to fish for, to retain on board, to tranship or to land the angelshark (Squatina squatina) and whenever the species are found in Union waters for third-country vessels. When accidentally caught, species shall not be harmed. Specimens shall be promptly released”.