Elasmobranchs in the Dutch Caribbean: current population status, fisheries and conservation
In the Dutch Caribbean EEZ, at least 27 elasmobranch species have been documented. Of these, 9 are listed as “critically endangered” and 8 as “near threatened” by the IUCN. Elasmobranchs are not a target fishery in the Dutch Caribbean, but do occur as bycatch in artisanal fisheries. Sharks are considered nuisance species by fishermen. Most sharks caught are not discarded, but consumed locally, used as bait, or (reportedly) killed and discarded at sea on the two islands where landing of sharks is illegal (Bonaire and St. Maarten). Based on recent data, published sport diver accounts, and anecdotal accounts, it is clear that shark populations in most areas of the Dutch Caribbean have been strongly depleted in the last half century.