Rhinobatos irvinei 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rhinopristiformes Rhinobatidae

Scientific Name: Rhinobatos irvinei Norman, 1931
Common Name(s):
English Spineback Guitarfish
French Raie-Guitare d’Irvine
Spanish Irvine Guitarra
Taxonomic Source(s): Eschmeyer, W.N., Fricke, R. and Van der Laan, R. (eds). 2016. Catalog of Fishes: genera, species, references. Updated 29 September 2016. Available at: http://researcharchive.calacademy.org/research/ichthyology/catalog/fishcatmain.asp. (Accessed: 29 September 2016).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A4bd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2008-12-01
Assessor(s): Séret, B. & Valenti, S.V.
Reviewer(s): Cavanagh, R.D. & Fowler, S.L. (Shark Red List Authority)
The Spineback Guitarfish (Rhinobatos irvinei ) is known from Morocco to southern Angola, along the western Africa coast, in shallow waters to ~30 m depth. It is captured by bottom trawls, trammelnets and hook-and-line fisheries, like other rhinobatids in this region. Inshore fishing pressure is intensive throughout much of its range along the western coast of Africa and rhinobatids are particularly valued for their fins. The species' preference for coastal, inshore waters renders it vulnerable to the effects of habitat degradation and destruction through coastal development, pollution and mangrove deforestation. Significant areas of mangrove forest have been destroyed in areas of the Gulf of Guinea, possibly removing important nursery grounds for this species. Although no specific data are available on population trends or capture in fisheries and this species was never known to be abundant, observations indicate that it is caught on an increasingly rare basis. Other Rhinobatos species have proved vulnerable to population depletion as a result of their limiting life-history characteristics and serious declines have been reported in similar species where they face similar threats. Given its susceptibility to capture by multiple gear types, intensive fishing pressure across its inshore range, the high value of its fins, widespread destruction of its coastal habitat and insight from similar species a precautionary assessment of at least Vulnerable is warranted globally on the basis of inferred population declines.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Eastern central and southeast Atlantic: Morocco to southern Angola (Séret in press). A record from Namibia requires confirmation (Séret in press).
Countries occurrence:
Angola; Benin; Cameroon; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Liberia; Mauritania; Morocco; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Togo; Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – eastern central; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):30
Upper depth limit (metres):1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It has never been abundant but nowadays it has become evidently rare, taken in fisheries on an increasingly rare basis (B. Séret pers. obs. 2008).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:An inshore guitarfish occurring in shallow coastal waters to about 30 m depth (Séret in press). Maximum size is 100 cm total length (TL) and the species commonly reaches 60-66 cm TL (Séret in press). Males mature at about 42 cm TL. Ovoviviparous with litters of 1-3 pups. Feed on benthic invertebrates mainly shrimps (Séret in press).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is captured by bottom trawls, trammelnets and hook-and-line, like other rhinobatids in this region. It is taken as bycatch in such fisheries throughout its range. Inshore fishing pressure is intensive throughout its range along the western coast of Africa. The small-scale fisheries that originally exploited elasmobranchs off western Africa in the 1950s have undergone huge development during the past 20 years in terms of numbers of boats and improvement of gear. Interviews with fishermen and traders strongly suggest that the shark fin trade is financing the overexploitation of shark resources and leading to declining catches throughout Africa (WildAid 2001, Walker et al. 2005). Rhinobatos species are particularly valued for their fins, which fetch high prices in the shark fin trade (CITES Animals Committee 2006). The targeting of these species for their fins has already led to population declines in several similar species of elasmobranchs (including R. cemiculus and R. rhinobatos), the extirpation of some Pristis species, and a significant transformation in the structure of small-scale fisheries (Walker et al. 2005). Extensive coastal shrimp trawl fisheries for pink shrimp Paenus notialis are also known to operate off Cameroon and Benin (IGGC 2007b). This species is likely taken as bycatch of these and other trawl fisheries that operate within its inshore range.

As well as over-exploitation by fisheries, this species coastal habitat is threatened by degradation and destruction through coastal development, pollution (residential, agricultural, hydrocarbon and heavy metals) and mangrove deforestation (IGGC 2007a,b). In Ghana, 55% of the mangroves and significant marshlands around the greater Accra area has been destroyed through pollution and overcutting. In Benin, the figure is 45% in the Lake Nouake area, in Nigeria, 33% in the Niger Delta, in Cameroon, 28% in the wouri Estuary and in Côte d'Ivoire, about 60% in the bay of Cocody (IGGC 2007b).

Serious declines have been documented in other Rhinobatos spp where they are heavily fished. These include, Rhinobatos rhinobatos and R. cemiculus which occur in the Mediterranean Sea along the western African coast, and are both assessed as Endangered, based on observed and inferred population declines as a result of targeted and incidental fishing pressure.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no known conservation measures in place for this species.

Recommended: Efforts should be made to quantify catch levels and determine population trends, which will require capacity-building, education and training programmes. Measures to protect and restore this species habitat would also be beneficial, such as identification and management of Marine Protected Areas to conserve nursery grounds. Research is needed on the species' life-history characteristics.

The development and implementation of management plans (national and/or regional e.g., under the FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks: IPOA-Sharks) are required to facilitate the conservation and management of all elasmobranch species in the region.

A seasonal ban on the targeted exploitation of this species elsewhere within the West African region would decrease the rate of capture of reproductively active individuals (M. Ducrocq pers. comm. 2006). A ban on finning and the dumping of carcasses should be considered, as this would represent the most effective method of decreasing the fishing pressure on this species. Otherwise, the implementation of licences for targeted and non targeted shark fishing and finning and a tax system on shark fins are recommended as measures to control the fishing pressure impacting this species.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.6. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Muddy
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
4. Education & awareness -> 4.2. Training
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

9. Pollution -> 9.1. Domestic & urban waste water -> 9.1.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.2. Industrial & military effluents -> 9.2.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.3. Agricultural & forestry effluents -> 9.3.4. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

CITES Animals Committee. 2006. Conservation and Management of Sharks, Species Affected by Trade. Twenty-second meeting of the Animals Committee, Lima (Peru), 7-13 July 2006. AC22 Doc. 17.4.

IGGC (Interim Guinea Current Commission). 2007. Meeting of the Technical Advisory Group on Biodiversity. Accra, Ghana, 26 February – 02 March, 2007. IGCC Technical Report Series.

IGGC (Interim Guinea Current Commission). 2007. Regional Issues. Available at: Available at: http://igcc.gclme.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=62&limit=1&limitstart=1.

IUCN. 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2009.2). Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 3 November 2009).

Norman, J.R. 1939. Fishes. The John Murray Expedition 1933-34. Sci. Reports, John Murray Expedition 7(1): 1-116.

Schneider, W. 1990.. FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Field guide to the commercial marine resources of the Gulf of Guinea. In: FAO (ed.), FAO Species identification sheets for fishery purposes. FAO, Rome.

Séret, B. In press. Rhinobatidae. FAO, Rome.

Stehmann, M. 1990.. Rhinobatidae. In: In: J.C. Quero, J.C. Hureau, C. Karrer, A. Post and L. Saldanha (eds), (eds), Check-list of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic (CLOFETA)., pp. p. 23-27.. JNICT, Lisbon; SEI, Paris; and UNESCO, Paris.

Walker, P., Cavanagh, R.D., Ducrocq, M., and Fowler, S.L. 2005. Northeast Atlantic (Including Mediterranean and Black Sea). In: Fowler, S.L., Cavanagh, R.D., Camhi, M., Burgess, G.H., Cailliet, G.M., Fordham, S.V., Simpfendorfer, C.A. and Musick, J.A. (eds) (eds), Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras: The Status of the Chondrichthyan Fishes, pp. 71-94. IUCN/ SSC Shark Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Citation: Séret, B. & Valenti, S.V. 2009. Rhinobatos irvinei. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T161409A5417520. . Downloaded on 24 June 2018.
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