Overfishing has been recognized as one of the biggest environmental and socioeconomic problems facing marine ecosystems since it reduces biodiversity and alters ecosystem functioning. Fishing is often size-selective causing catches to be concentrated on large-bodied species including elasmobranchs (sharks and rays). Although research efforts have mostly focused on the effect of industrial fisheries on elasmobranchs, small-scale fisheries account for more than 95% of fishers in the world. Given their wide occurrence and the large number of people dependent on fishing, small-scale fisheries are an important economic sector and their impact on vulnerable elasmobranchs may be significant. However, in these types of fisheries, detailed information on catch composition is limited due to a lack of monitoring and reporting. In addition, the flexible and informal nature of most artisanal fisheries (e.g. broad range of targeted species, diversity of gear used) makes them difficult to study, in terms of catch statistics of targeted species and bycatch.
Thanks to the support of Save Our Seas and collaborators like Pontificia Universidad Javeriana de la Compañía de Jesús, Parque Nacional Natural Corales de Islas del Rosario y San Bernardo, ReGuaR, Kap Natirel, and the Environmental Research Institute of Charlotteville, Tobago, Ph.D. student Camila Caceres is sampling artisanal fishers to learn more about the elasmobranch and human communities that survive along Caribbean coastlines.