Biology and Management of Dogfish Sharks

34. Conservation of Atlantic Spiny Dogfish under U.S. Law and CITES

Sonja V. Fordham


Abstract.—The spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias is one of the world’s best-studied and heavily fished sharks, yet one of the hardest to protect from overexploitation. The life-history characteristics, serious stock depletion, and significant international trade associated with dogfish are exceptionally welldocumented. The conservation mandates under the U.S. Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MFCMA) and the goals of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are also clear. Still, dogfish conservation efforts are hampered by the shark’s relatively low economic value, reputation as a pest, and general lack of appeal. The level of public support required to secure and sustain dogfish restrictions has been much higher than for other, more charismatic sharks. This paper documents the 15-year-long quest for science-based management of Northwest Atlantic dogfish fisheries and restrictions on dogfish international trade under CITES. Specifically, it reviews the process and hurdles associated with developing and effectively implementing fishery management plans (FMPs) for dogfish by the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils (MAFMC, NEFMC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). The relevant work of CITES and its Animals Committee as well as Germany’s efforts to list dogfish under CITES Appendix II are also discussed in detail. Specific recommendations to ensure dogfish sustainability, through improving fisheries policy development and employing complementary conservation tools, are offered.