, Volume 84, Issue 3, pp 277-289
Date: 31 Jan 2009

Demographic analyses of the dusky shark, Carcharhinus obscurus, in the Northwest Atlantic incorporating hooking mortality estimates and revised reproductive parameters

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Abstract

Demographic analyses were conducted for the dusky shark, Carcharhinus obscurus, in the Northwest Atlantic. Fishery-independent, fishery-dependent, and previously published data were used to estimate age specific by-catch mortality and reproductive cycle for incorporation into the analyses. Correspondence analyses were conducted for viability (dead or alive), shark length, month, soaktime, and region. Dead sharks were associated with small size, long soak times, and the spring season, while live sharks were associated with large size and shorter soak times. Data on reproduction suggested a 3-year reproductive cycle consisting of a 2-year gestation period and a 1-year resting period. Litter sizes ranged from 3–12 embryos. Decreasing age-specific fishing mortality and a 3-year reproductive cycle were used in age structured life tables which incorporated stochasticity in life history parameters through Monte Carlo simulation to estimate annual population growth. Demographic analyses showed that the dusky shark population would decline even at low levels of fishing mortality despite low natural mortality for neonates. The demographics of this species make it among the most vulnerable to excessive fishing mortality, and suggest stringent regulatory measures may be required to recover collapsed populations.