Please select your home edition
Super Yachts at boot (newsletter)

Predicting the future to reduce shark bycatch

by NOAA Fisheries 15 Aug 18:31 UTC
Shortfin mako shark swimming near the ocean surface © NOAA Fisheries

Many people would like to be able to predict where sharks are found in the ocean. From fishermen and shark enthusiasts to scientists and fishery managers working to reduce bycatch and keep fisheries sustainable, we need reliable ways to locate sharks.

Sharks choose their habitats based on a combination of biological and environmental conditions like water temperature, oxygen levels, food availability, salinity, and ocean currents.

Additionally, as climate change influences the migratory patterns of shark species, we need more tools to predict the likely movement of sharks in shifting environmental conditions. These tools can also be used to assist in understanding shark populations as well as assessing the impacts of offshore energy production on fishing.

NOAA Fisheries is developing and using these modeling tools to help reduce bycatch and predict the effects of climate change on sharks. One tool created by the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Management Division is called the Predictive Spatial Modeling Tool (PRiSM).

PRiSM combines observer and environmental data to predict fishery and species-specific interactions. For example, the map below shows where shortfin mako sharks are likely to interact with the pelagic longline fishery in August. Areas in yellow and orange on the heat map show where interactions are more likely to occur. Areas in purple are where interactions are less likely to occur. Fishermen could use this information to avoid yellow and orange areas and reduce bycatch of shortfin mako sharks.

In another example, this map shows where dusky sharks are likely to interact with the bottom longline fishery during December. Managers can use this information by shifting closed areas to help conserve shark populations and keep fishery operations sustainable.

While some level of bycatch is inherent in fishing operations, NOAA Fisheries continues to find new and innovative scientific approaches to reduce bycatch in support of sustainably managing fisheries and recovering and conserving protected species.

Related Articles

Heatwave impacts on Western Alaska Chum Salmon
New evidence after looking at nearly two decades of survey data After looking at nearly two decades of survey data, scientists found evidence to suggest that recent marine heatwave events in the eastern Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska may have played a key role in juvenile chum salmon survival. Posted on 9 Dec
New insight into changing conditions
That can shift fisheries, drive conflicts Weather forecasts only look out a few days to weeks. Two new research studies describe the increasing accuracy of specialized scientific models in forecasting changes in the ocean up to a year in advance. Posted on 8 Dec
New study on Atlantic bluefin tuna genome
Unidirectional trans-Atlantic gene flow and a mixed spawning area shape the genetic connectivity The commercially important Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), a large migratory fish, has experienced notable recovery aided by accurate resource assessment and effective fisheries management efforts. Posted on 21 Nov
New funding and action to help California salmon
NOAA & partners are implementing dozens of projects to benefit Central California Coast coho salmon Office of Habitat Conservation's Restoration Center has awarded an unprecedented $27.8 million to its partners through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to bring Central California Coast coho salmon back to California rivers. Posted on 13 Nov
Canopy Kelp forests persist in Coastal Alaska
Despite century of climatic and ecosystem change Drawing upon diverse datasets, scientists look for patterns of change and stability in an important nearshore habitat in a data-scarce region. Posted on 6 Nov
Atlantic sturgeon and climate change
Warming water impacts spawning and development Atlantic sturgeon are sensitive to climate change impacts such as increasing water temperatures, which may affect spawning behavior and seasonal migration. Posted on 31 Oct
Snow crab may be resilient to ocean acidification
New findings provide information for sustainable management of an important Alaska shellfish New research suggests that commercially important Alaska snow crab may already be well-adapted to survive levels of acidity predicted 200 years into the future. Posted on 30 Oct
Sustainable recreational fishing on the West Coast
To ensure healthy and resilient recreational fisheries for years to come Recreational fishing contributes to the fabric of our West Coast communities. On average, nearly 1.5 million recreational anglers take over 5 million fishing trips each year. Posted on 28 Oct
Research to shed light on fish habitat resilience
Summer 2023 expeditions took a deep dive into coral and sponge reproduction, growth, and recovery Alaska deep-sea coral and sponge communities provide habitat for many important commercial fish. However, these communities are vulnerable to damage from commercial fishing gear. Posted on 27 Oct
50th Fish Stock Rebuilt
A major rebuilding milestone Snohomish coho salmon was declared overfished in 2018 and has now been rebuilt to a sustainable level, making it the 50th rebuilt fish stock under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Posted on 25 Oct