Alicante and Murcia conservation concerns over sharks and rays

Alicante and Murcia conservation concerns over sharks and rays

Alicante and Murcia conservation concerns over sharks and rays. Image: Solar Seven /

Researchers from the CIMAR (Santa Pola Marine Research Centre) of the University of Alicante (UA) among other groups have produced scientific reports on the importance of two areas of the southern coast of Alicante and the Murcia Region for the conservation of sharks and rays.

These areas correspond to the coastal strip of the Region of Murcia and a deep sector between the south of Alicante and Seco de Palos. An international committee of experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has considered these areas as candidate areas for ISRA – Important Shark and Ray Areas.

“Last month, of the more than 110 proposals for ISRA areas assessed by the IUCN, 85 passed the first filter, including the two proposals presented off the coast of Alicante and Murcia. This shows for the first time the importance of these areas for the conservation of biodiversity in general and of elasmobranchs in particular,” explained the professor of Zoology in the Department of Marine Sciences and Applied Biology and director of the CIMAR of the UA, Francisca Gimenez Casalduero.

“Elasmobranchs are essential for the functioning of the marine ecosystem, which contrasts with an undeserved bad reputation. Although it is true that, in recent times, a certain amount of awareness has begun worldwide among different groups and institutions that promote action plans for the protection of these species”, added Elisa Arroyo, UA researcher and member of the team responsible for the proposal.

Scientific data shows that at least 50 per cent of Mediterranean rays and 54 per cent of sharks are at high risk of extinction due to continuous overfishing for years and bycatch associated with different types of fishing gear.

“The consequences of the disappearance of sharks and rays from our waters can offer an unpredictable scenario, due to the important role they play in the ecosystem.”

“Rays have a decisive influence on maintaining the structural diversity of the seabed, sharks are top predators, located at the top of the trophic pyramid. The areas studied have proven to be a hot spot for the diversity of elasmobranchs and key areas for species such as the lantern shark, the black shark or the guitar shark,” added Gimenez Casalduero.

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Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 19 years. She is passionate about her animal family including four dogs and four horses, musicals and cooking.