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Limited shark spatial refuges from industrial fishing

Pelagic sharks are among the widest-ranging vertebrates, with some species exhibiting annual ocean-basin-scale migrations. David Sims and colleagues assess the extent to which shark habitats overlap with industrial fishing efforts across the world’s oceans, using satellite data on the movements of 1,681 pelagic sharks (23 species) and satellite tracks of over 80,000 fishing vessels. They find that 24% of the space used by sharks in an average month falls under the footprint of pelagic longline fisheries, the gear type catching most open ocean sharks. In the case of protected species overlap rises to up to 61%. Conservation measures based on satellite surveillance could be crucial for reversing the observed declines in iconic ocean predators such as pelagic sharks.

Nature Volume 572 Issue 7770

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