The silky shark, Carcharhinus falciformis
is one of the most heavily exploited sharks, being the main by-catch species in both tuna longline and purse-seine fisheries in tropical waters worldwide. Despite this severe exploitation, little is known about the species’ life history and population status. Silky sharks, like many other sharks, exhibit slow growth and low fecundity, indicating the urgency of developing assessment studies to aid in the implementation of conservation plans for their stocks. Because information on the catch and effort of this species is scarce, some length-based data-limited methods were applied in the present study to provide estimates of the status of the tropical Pacific silky shark population. As evident from the LBSPR analysis, the current spawning potential ratio (SPR) was found to be below the target reference point of SPR 40% and slightly above the limit reference point of SPR 20%. In addition, the LBB model also confirmed that this stock’s status is overfished with relatively low biomass levels. Furthermore, both models showed estimates of size selectivity at 50% and 95% that were lower than the estimated size at sexual maturity. In conclusion, the data-limited models developed in this study indicated that the silky shark stock in the tropical Pacific Ocean may be at risk of further decline. Additionally, the results show that growth and recruitment overfishing may be occurring in the silky shark’s population calling for immediate intensification of monitoring programs for these sharks as a pre-requisite to develop efficient management and conservation plans in the Pacific Ocean.
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