Soupfin Shark

(Galeorhinus galeus)

Soupfin

1. What is it?

Soupfin sharks (Galeorhinus galeus) are slow growing, long living, late maturing fish that are widely distributed throughout temperate oceans globally. They are popular targets by fishers for their fins, which has led to over fishing in many areas. They are listed on IUCN’s list for threatened species as Vulnerable and stocks in South Africa are showing sign of being overfished.

2. How was it caught or farmed?

Linefishing

Soupfin sharks are often targeted by linefishers when catches of other target species are low. Linefishing is a relatively selective fishing method which targets a large number of species many of which are reef-associated but also includes a few pelagic species. When targeting pelagic linefish species, the linefishery is not likely to cause significant damage to overfished, vulnerable or ETP species, which are nearly all reef-associated. The reverse is true when targeting for reef-associated linefish species like soupfin sharks. The fishery has few discards and there are very few “non-target” species landed in the sector.

Demersal shark longline

Soupfin sharks are caught in shark demersal longline line which consists of a bottom set double-line system. There is limited information available of the current ecosystem impacts of the fishing, such as discards, bycatch and impact on endangered, threatened or vulnerable (ETP) species due to the lack of an effective observer programme. Historically, there has been concern regarding the impact of the fishery on vulnerable seabirds and sharks.

Inshore demersal trawl

Soupfin sharks are caught as bycatch in the inshore trawl fishery for hake (MSC certified) and sole using trawl nets. In the inshore zone, trawl nets are dragged along the sea bed at depths in the area from the coast to the 110 m isobath or to 20 nautical miles from the coast, whichever is the greater distance. Demersal trawling is known to damage the seabed; the extent and impact of this damage remains unknown. This methodology is not selective, however, and a number of other benthic species are often caught in the nets as well. Seabird bycatch was highlighted as an issue and the subsequent introduction of tori lines (lines covered in coloured streamers making attachment lines more visible to birds) has led to a decrease in bird mortalities.

3. Where is it from?

Linefishing

Soupfin sharks are found from the Eastern Cape to Northern Namibia. Management for the sector is considered partly effective. In South Africa, this sector is principally managed through a total allowable effort (TAE) limitation and there are additional restrictions to protect overfished species such as bag limit (1pp/pd) for recreational fishers. There is some concern over the impact of the small-scale fishery rights allocation beyond the recommended TAE and the continuously growing recreational sector.

Demersal shark longline

Soupfin sharks are found from the Eastern Cape to Northern Namibia. Management for the sector is considered partly effective. This sector is principally managed through a total allowable effort (TAE) limitation as well as area and bycatch limitations. Recreational fishers are subject to a bag limit of 1 pp/pd. There is no formal scientific or management working group for this fishery and therefore it is currently managed as part of the linefish working group.

Inshore demersal trawl

Soupfin sharks are caught between Cape Agulhas and the Great Kei River at depth shallower that 110 m. Management is considered to be partly effective. Management is mainly directed at the target species hake (MSC certified) and sole in the form of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and permit limitations. Some ecosystem-based management measures have been implemented, such as the use of tori lines to minimize seabird interactions and limited fishing areas. There is a fishery conservation project (FCP) presently underway seeking to test a co-management approach that would bring under management 10 non-target species in the sector. Additional ecological concerns are little information on impacts to sensitive shark, skates and ray populations as well as impacts to the seabed. Efforts are underway to improve the scientific observer coverage at sea for this sector to better understand ecosystem impacts.