Biology and Management of Dogfish Sharks

Keynote Address: The Sad History of Dogfish Management

Richard J. Beamish, Gordon A. McFarlane, Ruston M. Sweeting, and Chrys M. Neville


Abstract.—Spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias are not well liked by most humans. Their flesh is not esteemed, and they annoy commercial and recreational fishermen because when caught, dogfish delay the rate at which fishermen can catch desired species. This report reviews the remarkably poor treatment of dogfish. We identify some common misconceptions about dogfish held by both the general public and biologists. We discuss why dogfish should and must, by law, be properly managed like any other species. We conclude with a list of items that are needed to ensure that humans are good stewards of dogfish and the ecosystem they share with other species. Dogfish occur commonly off the Pacific coast of Canada and the United States and are a slow growing, long-lived fish that give birth to an average of about seven live babies after a pregnancy of almost 2 years. The role of dogfish in the marine ecosystem is not well understood, but their common abundance and long life indicates that the role is probably important.