Levent Apt., 1/1, Ulus Caddesi, Gönyeli, Nicosia, North Cyprus
CERECON
Cyprus Elasmobranch Research and Conservation Network
AIM OF THE PROJECT

To understand the biology and ecology of threatened and data deficient elasmobranch species as well as understand their trade and the perception of stakeholders on the importance of elasmobranchs and increase awareness in order to enhance conservation.

 

OBJECTIVES

  1. To enhance knowledge on the relative (in Mediterranean and Global terms) diversity and abundance of elasmobranch species occurring in Cyprus waters.
  2. To understand the preferred benthic habitats of key threatened species, identify important benthic assemblages and prey species (through dietary analyses) of elasmobranchs in the waters of Cyprus.
  3. To understand elasmobranch phenology, reproductive patterns and connectivity and phylogeny of Angel Sharks in a regional context.
  4. To feed these data into holistic bycatch management plans under the umbrella of the MAVA M4 Cyprus Bycatch Project and using existing advocacy materials translated to local languages.
  5. To understand the perception of stakeholders on the importance of elasmobranchs and increase awareness in order to enhance conservation.
  6. To propose conservation measures based on our findings through a peer-reviewed publication and feed results into MAVA M4 bycatch projects.
DuratION
06/09/2019 – 26/12/2020
FUNDED
MAVA FoundatIon
Co-funded
The Shark Trust
ZoologIcal SocIety of London
PARTNER
EnalIa PhysIs

Project successes

  • Observations made of 104 fishing operations during 75 fishing days from 15 fishing shelters across Cyprus. Fishing practices and metiers described. Catch per Unit Effort calculated for 16 elasmobranch species, totalling 166 records, with high proportion of threatened or data deficient species. New records for some areas of the island.
  • Elasmobranch survival rates in set nets and on longlines observed are high, but most are retained against international conventions protecting them.
  • Five hundred and sixty-four individuals of 28 species were recorded opportunistically with 265 examined for reproductive status, pregnancy, sex, morphometrics and diet.
  • Interviews undertaken with nearly 200 professional fishers to understand elasmobranch trade and economics and their knowledge of international protective legislation. Assessment made of the diversity of elasmobranchs encountered and local extinctions.
  • Online public survey to assess ecological knowledge and attitude toward elasmobranchs.
  • Awareness campaign through local and social media including animated illustrations.
  • Shark Trust advisory materials translated to local languages and made available online.
  • Action plans written for angel sharks to guide stakeholders.
  • Proposed conservation measures include marine protected areas, for the list of non-tradable species in the Turkish Cypriot community to be increased to reflect international norms, a short training course for professional fishers to identify, handle and safely release protected species.

advIsory materIals

Click on the icons  on the right to download the pdfs

Angular Roughshark – Oxynotus centrina

Smalltooth Sandtiger – Odontaspis ferox
Bigeye Thresher – Alopias superciliosus
Shortfin Mako – Isurus oxyrinchus
Blue Shark – Prionace glauca
Angel Sharks – Squatinidae
Guitarfishes – Rhinobatidae
Spiny Butterfly Ray – Gymnura altavela
Blue Skate – Dipturus batis
Giant Devil Ray – Mobula mobula
Fisher landing Squalus Blainville, which was caught in large numbers in deep sets targeting hake, often with many pregnant individuals. As a data deficient species, it seems abundant around Cyprus.

Credit: Olkan Ergüler
This critically endangered shortfin mako was delivered to market in 2020. SPOT experts were permitted to examine the specimen prior to sale. One of many individuals recorded during CERECON project.

Source: Social Media
The key recommendation of the project is that the trade of protected species like this critically endangered angel shark is urgently prohibited. Extinct from much of the Mediterranean we are lucky to have angel sharks breeding in Cyprus waters and like other elasmobranchs, their ecological roles are important.

Credit: Robin Snape
The captain of this boat called our team for the endangered green turtle which had drowned in his nets, but we just as interested to find a bull ray, guitarfish, and a mixture of marbled and common stingray.
Threatened species were often found to be used for bait.

Credit: Olkan Ergüler