Credit: Tony Glibert. Caption: An Angelshark Squatina resting off of Charco del Palo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands.

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Helping save the critically endangered Angelshark living in the waters of the Canary Islands

December 19, 2016
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By Justin Wong

The majestic Angelshark is one of the world’s most threatened shark species and SFU marine biology professor Nicholas Dulvy has a plan to protect the shark.

Dulvy recently attended the Angelshark Conservation Workshop in the Canary Islands, a group of islands located off the coast of Morocco and Western Sahara. As a co-chair for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group, Dulvy has long been convinced that something needs to be done to protect the Angel shark.

“The critically endangered Angelshark has suffered major decline over the past century, largely due to the intensification of commercial fishing practices,” says Dulvy. “On the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species, we estimate that the population has declined by at least 80 per cent over the past 33 years, and will continue to decline.”

With this in mind, Dulvy and his colleagues have developed the Angelshark Action Plan for the Canary Islands, a 10-year roadmap intended to safeguard this species living in the waters around the Canary Islands, one of the few locations it still inhabits.

During the workshop last June, he met and collaborated with a wide range of local and international divers, scientists and conservationists, in addition to officials from the Canary Islands and Spanish governments, on the project.

The plan includes a strategy for a comprehensive exploration of the active threats faced by the Angelshark species, as well as specific actions to mitigate these issues and recommendations for strengthening formal protection of the species.

SFU students and others interested in helping save the "Critically Endangered" Angelshark can also get involved, even without much of a background in marine biology.

Dulvy says their team will be looking for people who have various skillsets from different disciplines. Here are a few jobs you should look out for in the near future.

  1. Graphic designers to help develop educational materials.
  2. App developers to help develop an app for fishermen to report illegal Angelshark fishing.
  3. Website developers who can help the team create a site that will allow tourists to choose from dive centres that feature Angelshark education programs.

SFU community members interested in getting involved should contact Dulvy.