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Carcharhinus plumbeus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA CHONDRICHTHYES CARCHARHINIFORMES CARCHARHINIDAE

Scientific Name: Carcharhinus plumbeus
Species Authority: (Nardo, 1827)
Common Name(s):
English Sandbar Shark
Synonym(s):
Squalus plumbeus Nardo, 1827

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2bd+4bd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2007-02-20
Assessor(s): Musick, J.A., Stevens, J.D., Baum, J.K., Bradai, M., Clò, S., Fergusson, I., Grubbs, R.D., Soldo, A., Vacchi, M. & Vooren, C.M.
Reviewer(s): Dudley, S.D., Pollard, D., Kyne, P.M., Cavanagh, R.D., Valenti, S.V. & Soldo, A. (Shark Red List Authority)
Justification:
This large coastal species is widespread in subtropical and warm temperate waters around the world. Tagging, age and growth studies show that Sandbar Sharks are long-lived, with low fecundity and are consequently very vulnerable to over-fishing. This species is an important component of shark fisheries in most areas where it occurs and has been overfished in the northwest and western central Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Population declines are suspected to have occurred off southern Brazil and in the northeast Pacific. Off Australia, biomass has also decreased to ~35% of pre-fishery levels as a result of fishing off Western Australia, although management is in place to prevent further declines there. In Hawaiian waters, the species is common and not fished. Given the high intrinsic vulnerability of this species to depletion, significant declines estimated and suspected in several areas of its range and inferred declines in highly fished areas from which data are not available, C. plumbeus is assessed as Vulnerable globally.

Mediterranean
Both coastal and pelagic waters of the Mediterranean Sea have been intensively exploited for many decades. Catches of this species have declined significantly along the Levantine coasts. Sandbar Sharks were previously regularly seen on fish markets of southern Sicily but have not been observed on the same markets in recent years. While the Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia, and an area off Turkey appear to be important nursery grounds for this species, recent records of the species in the Mediterranean outside these areas appear to be rare and there are no recent records of gravid females outside these areas. Given that this region is subject to high levels of continuing fishing pressure, the high biological vulnerability of this species, evidence for declines in the Mediterranean and declines inferred from other areas where it is heavily fished, C. plumbeus is assessed as Endangered in the Mediterranean Sea, which unlike the US and Australian stocks is not subject to management.

Southwest Atlantic
This species is taken as both a target and bycatch of coastal and pelagic fisheries in this region. Off southern Brazil, intensive fishing by pair trawl, gillnet and beach seine on pupping and nursery grounds is thought to have caused excessively high juvenile mortality. Fishing with these gears has been intense in this species' habitat during the last 20 years. Records of typical beach seine catches in the early 1980s indicate that 20 individuals could be taken in a single haul. Conversely, no catches of the species were observed during shore fishery monitoring in summer 2003, but neonates of C. plumbeus were common during monitoring of a coastal fishing at depths of 18-60 m between Tramandaí and Saint Simão in summer 2005. Adults of this species are also caught by domestic and international pelagic fisheries operating off the Atlantic coast of South America. This species is taken, along with other Carcharhinids in these fisheries. Tuna and swordfish longline fisheries now also target sharks due to increasing demand for shark products and the value of their fins.

Northwest Atlantic
Sandbar Shark is taken in recreational and commercial fisheries along the south Atlantic coast of the USA and in the Gulf of Mexico, which have expanded rapidly during the last >20 years. Sandbar shark stocks were reduced by 85-90% in just 10 years because of over-exploitation and only continued to support a fishery because of the very large size of the original stock. Adult females became very uncommon and the average size of individuals has declined by ~70% of the average size in 1975. Although management was introduced in 1993 and the biomass of the species was reported to have increased by 2002, a recent assessment estimated that the stock is still only 35-47% of virgin biomass and 26-43% of virgin mature abundance in numbers. Newly available analyses of survey data also estimate significant declines (of between 84% and 97% over time periods of 13-41 years). Sandbar Shark is listed as a prohibited species on the US Fishery Management plan for Atlantic sharks. All this considered, the Night Shark is assessed as Vulnerable globally based on significant population declines throughout its northwest and western central Atlantic range due to target and bycatch exploitation by fisheries, which although now managed in US waters, is not the case elsewhere in the region.

Australia
Sandbar Sharks are an important component of the Western Australian shark fishery. Current total biomass is probably at about 35% of its level prior to the start of full-time northern shark fishing. Current management arrangements in the fishery should arrest any further declines in stock biomass, but continued monitoring and assessment will be essential to monitor the stock, and the effectiveness of these measures. All this considered, the species is assessed as Near Threatened throughout Australian waters, close to meeting the criteria for Vulnerable A1bd. Continued monitoring and regular reassessment is recommended.

Hawaii
The species is common and not fished in Hawaiian waters, where the population is presumed stable and therefore assessed as Least Concern.

Northwest Pacific
This species is a known catch of longline, trawl and set net fisheries, likely operating throughout large areas of its range in this region. Japanese catch data on sandbar sharks are limited, but reported landings in Japan's coastal ports show a sharp decline since 1992, from 126 mt per annum at that time, to 91 mt in 1995, 21 mt in 2000 and 3 mt in 2004. No CPUE data are available, however catches and the average size of individuals off Taiwan, Province of China, have also declined. Given this, the species' limiting life-history characteristics, the declining trends estimated elsewhere and continuing, unregulated fishing pressure in this region, an assessment of at least Near Threatened is considered appropriate. Further research on the species' status in this region is required due to concern that it may meet the criteria for Vulnerable A2d.
History:
1996 Vulnerable (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs world-wide in tropical and warm temperate waters.

Western Atlantic: USA from Gulf of Maine, Massachusetts to Yucatan, Mexico, Cuba and Bahamas; possibly to Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela; southern population extending from southern Brazil to northern Argentina (Compagno in prep).

Eastern Atlantic: Portugal, possibly Canary Islands, Spain, Morocco, Senegal, Cape Verde Islands, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Zaire, Sao Tome and Principe (Compagno in prep).

Mediterranean Sea: Corsica, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Spain, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey (Compagno in prep.).

Western Indian Ocean: South Africa, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman (Compagno in prep).

Western Pacific: Viet Nam, China (including Taiwan Province), Japan, Indonesia (Aru Island), Australia (Queensland, New South Wales), New Caledonia (Compagno in prep).

Eastern Indian Ocean: Western Australia and the Northern Territory (Compagno in prep).

Also common in the Hawaiian Islands in the Central Pacific (Compagno in prep). Records from Galapagos and Revillagigedo Islands are probably spurious.
Countries:
Native:
Argentina; Australia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia); Bahamas; Benin; Brazil; Cameroon; Cape Verde; China; Colombia; Congo; Costa Rica; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cuba; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Gabon; Ghana; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Honduras; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Japan; Lebanon; Liberia; Libya; Madagascar; Malta; Mauritius; Morocco; Mozambique; New Caledonia; Nigeria; Oman; Panama; Portugal; Sao Tomé and Principe; Senegal; Seychelles; Slovenia; South Africa; Spain (Canary Is.); Sudan; Syrian Arab Republic; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Turkey; United States (Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia); Uruguay; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Viet Nam
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – eastern central; Atlantic – southwest; Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – western central; Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Mediterranean and Black Sea; Pacific – western central; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – southeast
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The below is mainly taken from Musick (2005), with some information updated.

Carcharhinus plumbeus is a coastal shark, often in shallow waters associated with sandy or muddy flats, bays, estuaries and harbours commonly down to salinities of 20 ppt in some populations (Grubbs et al. 2007a) and also further offshore, particularly on banks, near islands, flat reefs and other topographic features in open waters (Compagno in prep.). This species occurs from the surfline down to 280 m (Compagno in prep.), but typically in waters less than 100 m where it frequently forages near the seabed. In the Mediterranean it is caught down to 200 m (caught at this depth on the bottom in Sicilian waters by trawlers) (Compagno in prep.). Juveniles tend to occur in offshore temperate waters, while larger sharks mainly occur in tropical waters (McAuley et al. 2005).

This species is viviparous with a yolk sac placenta. Gestation has been estimated at 9-12 months in the Northwest and Western Central Atlantic (Springer 1960, Colvocoresses and Musick 1989), 12 months off Brazil (Hazin et al. 2006), 11-12 months off South Africa (Bass et al. 1973, Cliff et al. 1988) and the East China Sea (Taniuchi 1971), 10-12 months off Taiwan (Province of China) (Joung and Chen 1995) and 12 months off Western Australia (McAuley et al. 2007). Females apparently have young only every two or three years. Joung and Chen (1995) noted that about 50% of mature females are pregnant off Taiwan (Province of China), and Cliff et al. (1988) reported the same off KwaZulu-Natal. Conversely Springer (1960) noted that only 17-27% of mature females captured off Florida were pregnant. However, most of the mature females examined in the mid-Atlantic Bight of the US in summer are pregnant or recently have born young (Colvocoresses and Musick 1989). Therefore, the pregnancy rate in the Northwest Atlantic may be near 50%, but it is difficult to obtain a synoptic sample of the entire population of mature females because of their wide geographic distribution and seasonal movements. McAuley et al. (2007) report biennial reproductive periodicity off Western Australia with mating occurring during summer and autumn.

In general, size at maturity, maximum size and litter size decrease from the western Atlantic (Sminkey and Musick 1996) to the western Indian Ocean (Bass et al. 1973, Baranes and Wendling 1981), to Taiwan (Joung and Chen 1995) and Australia (Last and Stevens 1994), to the east China Sea (Taniuchi 1971) to Hawaii (Wass 1973). Size at maturity in females ranges from 129-158 cm total length (TL) and from 123-156 cm TL in males, as summarized by McAuley et al. (2007). Litter size is variable and depends in part on the size of the mother. In the Northwest and Western Central Atlantic litter size averages 8.4-9.3 (range = 1-14). However, in Hawaii mean litter size is only 5.5 (range = 1-8) (Tester 1969). In Western Australia litter size varies from 4-10 with a mean of 6.5 (McAuley et al. 2007). Within a given geographic area litter size is only very weakly correlated with the size of the mother (Cliff et al. 1988, Colvocoresses and Musick 1989, Hoff 1990, Joung and Chen 1995, McAuley et al. 2005).

Size at birth varies slightly by region but does not follow the same geographic pattern. New born pups range from 40-53 cm TL. In the Gulf of Gabes, Mediterranean Sea, Capapé (1984) reported size at birth at 58-65 cm TL. Size at birth in Western Australia is 40-45 cm FL. And 60% of the embryos were female (McAuley et al. 2007).

Sandbar Sharks are slow-growing K-selected species (Hoff 1990, Sminkey and Musick 1995). Although growth and age at maturity may be accelerated under captive conditions (Wass 1973), wild populations grow very slowly and mature at a relatively late age. In the western Atlantic the von Bertalanffy growth coefficient, k, has been estimated to be very low (0.039-0.089) in validated studies using annuli on vertebral centra (Lawler 1976, Casey et al. 1985, Sminkey and Musick 1995). Maturity in these studies was estimated at 13-16 years. However, in another study based on growth rates calculated from tag/recapture data, growth was considerably slower and age at maturity was estimated to be 29 years (Casey and Natanson 1992). Considerable debate has arisen concerning the discrepancy between the two methods including the small tag/recapture sample size and the possible effects of tagging on growth rates (Sminkey 1994). A recent study of age and growth off Taiwan (Joung et al. 2004) based on caudal vertebrae for which the annual nature of growth bands have not been validated is suspect. Romine et al. (2006) recently defined age and growth of sandbar sharks in Hawaii where the population grow faster (k male = 0.12; k female = 0.10) and mature at an earlier age (males at 8 and females at 10 years of age, respectively) than populations in other areas. This study contradicts earlier very rapid growth estimates in captive sandbars (Wass 1973). In Western Australia, the annual periodicity of growth band formation was validated using vertebrae from tagged sharks, which were injected with oxytetracycline and were at liberty for up to 8.1 years. The oldest female was estimated to be 25 years of age and the oldest male was 19 years. The ages at which 50% of female and male sharks were mature was estimated to be 16.2 and 13.8 years, respectively (McAuley et al. 2006). Validated age at maturity estimates are available from McAuley et al. (2006): females reach 50% maturity at 16.2 years of age and males at 13.8 years of age.

Recent publications suggest that for sandbar sharks the annual population increase rate can vary from 2.5% to 11.9% (Sminkey 1994, Sminkey and Musick 1996). These low rates of intrinsic increase are probably close to the real situation and reflect the K-selected life history parameters typical of virtually all large sharks. In Western Australia the stock was estimated to have a potential rate of population growth of 2.5% per year, in the absence of fishing (McAuley et al. 2005). The estimated generation and population doubling times of approximately 23 years, indicated a lengthy recovery period for the stock should it be reduced to lower than acceptable levels (McAuley et al. 2005). Regardless, Sandbar Sharks grow slowly and mature late. Longevity is 35-41 years (Musick 2005, McAuley et al. 2006).

Diet: This shark mainly feeds on small bottom fishes, as well as molluscs and crustaceans. Compagno (2001) reports that this species' diet includes sardines, shad, menhaden, anchovies, sea catfishes, moray and snake eels, pipefish, barracuda, mullets, goatfishes, hairtails, spanish mackeral, bonito, mackeral, jacks, groupers, croakers, grunts, porgies, flounders and soles, sea robins, toadfish, cusk eels, porcupine fish, sharpnose sharks (Rhizoprionodon), spiny dogfish (Squalus), bonnethead sharks, guitarfish, skates, stingrays, cow-nosed rays, squid, cuttlefish, octopi, bivalves and conchs, amphipods, shrimp and crabs. Neonates may consume mostly crabs and other large crustaceans and then eat more fishes as they get older (Ellis and Musick 2007). The species does not consume garbage and mammalian carrion as a rule, unlike some other members of its genus.
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Carcharhinus plumbeus is a significant component of coastal shark fisheries worldwide (Bass et al. 1973, Compagno 1984b, Last and Stevens 1994, Branstetter and Burgess 1995, Joung and Chen 1995, McAuley et al. 2005). This species is caught with longlines, hook-and-line, and set bottom nets and is also fished with rod and reel by sports anglers as a game fish (Compagno in prep.). Sandbar sharks were found to represent at least 2-3% of the fins auctioned in Hong Kong, the world's largest shark fin trading center (Clarke et al. 2006a). Their fins are generally considered to be of high value, comparable to dusky shark and hammerhead fins (S. Clarke unpubl. Data). Tagging, age and growth studies show that sandbar sharks are a long-lived species with low fecundity and are very vulnerable to over-fishing (Springer 1960, Casey et al. 1985, Sminkey and Musick 1995, 1996; McAuley et al. 2005, 2006). It is an important component of shark fisheries in most areas where it occurs and has been severely overfished in the Northwest and Western Central Atlantic, Mediterranean, Southern Brazil and probably the Northeast Pacific. It has declined from fishing off western Australia and is common but not fished in Hawaiian waters (Romine et al. 2006).

Northwest Atlantic
Along the Atlantic coast of the US, Branstetter and Burgess (1995) reported that this species contributed up to 60% of the catch and 80% of the landings in the directed longline fishery. In addition, the sandbar shark is second only to the blue shark Prionace glauca (a pelagic species) in the US Atlantic recreational shark fishery (Hoff and Musick 1990). During the last 20 years the recreational and commercial fisheries for sharks along the south Atlantic coast of the US and in the Gulf of Mexico have expanded at rapid rates (Anderson 1985, 1990; Casey and Hoey 1985, Hoff and Musick 1990). Recreational catch has been estimated at 2.5 million sharks (c.35,000 t) annually; 20-40% of these are killed (National Marine Fisheries Service 1993). Driven by increased marketability, the commercial fishery has rapidly expanded since 1985, with landings exceeding 7,100 t in 1989 (National Marine Fisheries Service 1993). In the Northwest and Western Central Atlantic sandbar shark stocks were reduced by 85-90% in just 10 years because of over-exploitation. This species continued to support a substantial fishery after such a severe population decline only because of the very large size of the original stock. In addition, the age structure of the population has been shifted dramatically toward younger age classes. Adult females became very uncommon (Musick et al. 1993). Furthermore, the average size of sandbar sharks off Virginia in 2005 had declined to 32% of the size in 1975 (Ha 2006). A Fishery Management Plan was introduced in 1993, on which C. plumbeus is managed as a coastal species. Several states (Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and Florida) also enacted laws to regulate shark fishing in their respective regions (14% of commercial and 64% of recreational catches occur in state controlled waters). Although biomass of the species was reported to have increased by 2002 (Cortes et al. 2002), a recent assessment estimated that the stock is still only 35-47% of virgin biomass and 26-43% of virgin mature abundance in numbers (SEDAR 2006). Further evidence of decline comes from newly available analyses of survey data: A shark-targeted longline research survey from the University of North Carolina, conducted annually between 1972 and 2003 off Cape Lookout has caught 310 sandbar sharks. The standardized CPUE time series for this survey indicates significant declines for sandbar shark amounting to an 86% decline, with no recovery in the latter years of the survey (Myers et al. in prep). A second shark-targeted longline survey conducted in South Carolina in 1983-84 and 1993-1995 shows large significant declines in sandbars, amounting to a 97% decline just over this 13 year time period (Myers et al. in prep). Finally, a trawl survey conducted in Delaware Bay by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control between 1964 and 2004 shows a significant decline rate, that over this 41 year time period amounts to an 84% decline (Myers et al. in prep).

Southwest Atlantic
Intensive fishing by pair trawl, gillnet and beach seine on pupping and nursery grounds is thought to have caused excessively high juvenile mortality to the point of threatening the population of the species in southern Brazil. Fishing with these gears has been intense in this species' habitat during the last 20 years. The company SOPESCA in Rio Grande recorded receipt of 10t of C. plumbeus on 11 February 1983. A record of a typical beach seine catch on 23 February 1983 indicates that 20 individuals of C. plumbeus were caught within a single haul, with seven specimens smaller than 80cm TL (Vooren et al. 2005). No catches of the species were observed during shore fishery monitoring in summer 2003, but neonates of C. plumbeus were common during monitoring of a coastal fishing at depths of 18-60m between Tramandaí and Saint Simão in summer 2005. Neonates of C. brevipinna, C. falciformis and C. signatus were also observed in this area, as well as adults of Carcharias taurus, which is Critically Endangered in this region (Vooren et al. 2005). Carcharhinus plumbeus is also caught off Uruguay and northern Argentina (A. Domingo pers. comm.).

Adults of this species are also caught by pelagic fisheries operating off the Atlantic coast of South America. A number of countries operate longline fleets targeting tuna and swordfish in the high seas areas of the Southwest Atlantic region. In addition to the coastal nations of the Southwest Atlantic, nations including Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Spain, Bolivia, Cape Verde, United Kingdom, China and Barbados also operate vessels here. However, with the exception of Taiwan, (and during certain periods of the year, Korea and Spain), the effort of these fleets is minor compared with other areas of the Atlantic (Bonfil 1994). This species is taken, along with other Carcharhinids in these fisheries (Fowler et al. 2005). Tuna and swordfish longline fisheries now also target sharks due to increasing demand for shark products and the value of their fins (Bonfil et al. 2005, Mejuto et al. 2006).

Mediterranean Sea
Carcharhinus plumbeus is caught with surface and bottom longlines, gillnets and occasionally trawls in the Mediterranean Sea, including in the Sicilian Channel, off Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, Spain, Morocco and Algeria and infrequently elsewhere. There are also anecdotal reports of bycatch of this species in fixed tuna traps (Tonnara) in Sicily. Both coastal and pelagic fishing pressure is high throughout much of the Mediterranean Sea.

This species was common until the 1980s along all the Levantine coasts (Saad et al. 2004), where it was the most dominant species in shark catches (>85%) (Baranes and Ben Tuvia 1978). The sandbar shark C. plumbeus is still the most important shark species captured in this area, however, there has been a significant decline in captures (M. Bradai pers. obs. 2008).

The Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia, and an area off Turkey appear to be important nursery grounds for this species (Capapé 1984, Saidi et al. 2005; Bradai et al. 2006, STECF 2003). There are no recent records of gravid females of this species in the Mediterranean outside of these areas. Constantini and Affronte (2003) report that the northern Adriatic Sea may also be an important nursery area for the species, based on six neonatal sandbar sharks captured with gillnets in this area between 1998 and 2000. The last record of a pregnant female sandbar shark from this area was recorded in 1982 (Constantini and Affronte 2003, Travaglini 1982).

This species was previously regularly seen on fish markets of southern Sicily during the summer months but has not been observed on the same markets in recent years (F. Cigala-Fulgosi and M. Vacchi pers. obs. 2003). A similar situation is apparent in the eastern Adriatic sea (Lipej et al. 2000, A. Soldo pers comm.) and therefore recent publications have described C. plumbeus as an endangered species in the Adriatic Sea (Lipej et al. 2004). However, in Tunisia, the species is regularly landed and observed in fish markets (Bradai et al. 2006).

In the Gulf of Gabès, juvenile C. plumbeus are caught with longlines and trawls and adult females are targeted using specially-designed gillnets (locally known as "kallabia" from "kalb' bhar" (literally sea dog) which means shark in Arabic) during spring and early summer, when they move inshore to pup (Saidi et al. 2005, Bradai et al. 2006). Given the high biological vulnerability of this species to exploitation, the declines observed in other areas of its range where it is taken as a target and bycatch and continuing, unregulated fishing pressure in this area, it is strongly suspected that this stock will also decline.

The species is a known bycatch of pelagic fisheries operating within Mediterranean waters (STECF 2003), but recent records appear to be very rare. While, in the Gulf of Gabès, juvenile C. plumbeus represent a major component in total capture of the pelagic fisheries targeting swordfish (Bradai et al. 2006). In a study of incidental catch of pelagic sharks from the swordfish and tuna fisheries operating throughout the Mediterranean Sea from 1998-2000, only two specimens of C. plumbeus were recorded in one area (the Straits of Sicily) (Megalofonou et al. 2005). Although blue shark, shortfin mako and thresher sharks make up the bulk of shark catch in the Moroccan pelagic driftnet fisheries in the eastern Mediterranean, Carcharhinid species are also known to be taken and landed by this fleet on an occasional basis. Some boats are known to deploy their nets near to the coast (1-2 miles from the shore) to target pelagic sharks (Tudela et al. 2005). Important catches of Carcharhinids such as C. plumbeus are also made in the pelagic longline fishery operating from ports in eastern Algeria (Walker et al. 2005).

Habitat degradation of this species' coastal nursery areas through coastal development and pollution also poses an important threat.

Northwest and Western Central Pacific
This species is a known catch of longline, trawl and set net fisheries operating throughout large areas of this region. It is a known catch of shark longline and tuna gillnet fisheries operating off Indonesia (White et al. 2006). Japanese data on sandbar sharks are limited, but reported landings in Japan's coastal ports show a sharp decline during the period since 1992. At that time landings totaled 126 mt per annum, but this amount decreased to 91 mt in 1995, 21 mt in 2000 and 3 mt in 2004. No CPUE trends are available (Japan Fisheries Agency 2006). In Taiwan, Province of China, catches and sizes have decreased during recent years, particularly in north east waters (Chen et al. 1996).

Australia
Sandbar sharks are an important component of the Western Australian shark fishery. Current total biomass is probably at about 35% of its level prior to the start of full-time northern shark fishing. Current management arrangements in the fishery should arrest any further declines in stock biomass, but continued monitoring and assessment will be essential to monitor the stock, and the effectiveness of these measures. See McAuley et al. (2005) for a summary of the fishery and stock status.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Precautionary adaptive collaborative management of target and bycatch fisheries is needed for this biologically vulnerable shark. It is also essential to improve data collection and develop stock assessments for this species. Family Carcharhinidae is listed as highly migratory under the 1995 UN Agreement on the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UNFSA). The Agreement specifically requires coastal and fishing States to cooperate and adopt measures to ensure the conservation of listed species. To date, there has been little progress (see United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for further details). Also of relevance is the FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks) which recommends that Regional Fisheries Organisations (RFOs) carry out regular shark population assessments and that member States cooperate on joint and regional shark management plans. This is of particular importance for species such as sandbar shark whose stocks are exploited by many States on the high seas. Steps are being taken by some RFOs, such as ICCAT, to collect species-specific data on pelagic sharks. To date two RFOs, ICCAT and IATTC, have adopted finning bans, as have several range states (e.g. Canada, USA, EU, Australia, Brazil etc.). More are likely to follow suit.

Canada and the USA have shark management plans (NMFS 1993, Joyce 1999). In US Atlantic waters Sandbar Sharks are a prohibited species (outside of the shark research fishery) on the Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic tunas, swordfish, and sharks. Prohibited species must be released immediately with minimum injury and without removing them from the water.

The species is under a comprehensive management plan in Western Australia (McAuley et al. 2005). Management of the Australian fishery is through input controls implemented as time-gear units. In 2006, the Western Australian Government introduced a number of changes in all commercial fisheries to reduce mortality, particularly dusky and sandbar shark, including: a maximum size limit for dusky shark; additional controls on the use of longline; and the conversion of monthly gear units to daily gear units (McLoughlin 2008, McAuley et al. 2005).

Bibliography [top]

Anonymous. 2003. Commission staff working paper report of AD working group elasmobranches fisheries. Brussels.

Baranes, A. and Ben Tuvia, A. 1978. Occurrence of the sandbar shark Carcharhinus plumbeus in the northern Red Sea. Israel Journal of Zoology 27: 45-51.

Bass, A.J., D?Aubrey, J.D. and Kistnasamy, N. 1973. Sharks of the east coast of southern Africa. I. The genus Carcharhinus (Carcharhinidae). South African Association for Marine Biological Research. Oceanographic Research Institute. Oceanographic Research Institute. Investigational Reports.

Bradai, M.N., Saidi, B., Bouain, A., Guélorget, O. and Capapé, C. 2005. The Gulf of Gabès (Central Mediterranean): Nursery area for the sandbar shark, Carcharhinus plumbeus (Nardo, 1827) (Chondrichthyes: Cacharhinidae). Annales Series Historia Naturalis 15(2): 187-194.

Bradai, M.N., Saidi, B., Enajjar, S. and Bouain, A. 2006. The Gulf of Gabès: a spot for the Mediterranean elasmobranches. In: N. Basusta, Ç. Keskin, F. Serena and B. Seret (eds), The Proceedings of the Workshop on Mediterranean Cartilaginous Fish with Emphasis on Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, pp. 107-117. Turkish Marine Research Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey.

Bradaï, M.N., Saïdi, B., Ghorbel, M., Bouaïn, A., Guélorget, O. and Capapé, C. 2002. Observations sur les requins du Golfe de Gabès (Tunisie méridionale, Méditerranée centrale). Mésogée 60: 65-78.

Capapé, C. 1984. Nouvelles donnees sur la morphologie et la biologie de la reproduction de Carcharhinus plumbeus (Nardo, 1827) (Pisces, Carcharhinidae) des cotes tunisiennes. Inv. preq. 48(2): 115-137.

Capapé, C., Tomasini, J.A. and Quignard, J.P. 2000. Les elasmobranches pleurotrêmes de la côte du Languedoc (France Méridionale): observations biologiques et demographiques. Vie Et Milieu-Life and Environment 50: 123-133.

Casey, J.G., Pratt, H.L. and Stillwell, C.E. 1985. Age and growth of the sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) from the western north Atlantic. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 42: 963-975.

Chen, G.C.T., Liu, K.M., Joung, S. and Phipps, M.J. 1996. TRAFFIC report on shark fisheries and trade in Taiwan. The World Trade in Sharks: a Compendium of TRAFFIC?s regional studies. TRAFFIC Network, Cambridge, UK.

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 125, vol. 4.

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