Sharks, rays and skates in Belgian fisheries: HAROkit identification tools | Flanders Marine Institute

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Sharks, rays and skates in Belgian fisheries: HAROkit identification tools

In order to obtain a sustainable fishery and more correct landing stats on sharks, skates and rays, it is essential that these elasmobranchs are identified at a species specific level and that they are named the correct name (on board, in the fish auction as well as over the further chain of custody). Also, the landing and handling rules and prohibitions have to be clear for each of the species. The project HAROkit developed an identification kit for the sharks, skates and rays that can be potentially caught by Belgian fishermen. The package (in Dutch only) is freely available to be used on board, in the fish auction and for fisheries trainees.

At the moment there is no species specific approach for sharks, skates and rays in the Belgian fisheries. The European quotum for ‘rays’ applies to all species together, catch restrictions (TAC = 0) for sharks only applies to spiny dogfish, although some critically endangered species are not allowed to be caught, kept aboard or landed.

As many species do look alike, mistakes are easily made to distinguish the species. Sometimes only one characteristic is different between species. This item can be unclear to see, for example due to lesion by being trawled in the nets. The identification cards, information sheets and an educational video can help to identify the species.

There exists a lot of confusion about the naming of sharks, skates and rays. Sometimes several species are named a collective name or dialect names are used. Dialect names differ from the officially used names in fisheries statistics and European legislation. One dialect name sometimes comprises several species, causing confusion.

Also included in the kit are instructions on how to handle sharks, skates and rays, for the safety of the fishermen as well as for the increase in survival of the discarded elasmobranchs.

See the Dutch version of this page to download the tools (in Dutch only).



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