Extinction risk and conservation of endangered angel sharks in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea
Understanding the details of local and regional extinctions allows for more efficient allocation of conservation activities and resources. This involves identifying where populations persist, where populations may still be present, and where populations may be locally extinct. Three threatened angel sharks occur in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea: Sawback Angelshark (Squatina aculeata), Smoothback Angelshark (Squatina oculata), and Angelshark (Squatina squatina). Population sizes and geographic ranges of these species have been reduced due to overfishing and habitat loss, placing them among the world s most threatened chondrichthyans. We revise distribution maps, review global status, and present a Conservation Strategy to protect and restore these angel shark populations by minimizing fishing mortality, protecting critical habitat, and mitigating human disturbance. Updated distributions reveal that a halving of the geographic extent may have occurred for all three species, with potential declines of 51% for Sawback Angelshark, 48% for Smoothback Angelshark, and 58% for Angelshark. While 20 national and international management measures are now in place for Angelshark, only half of these include the other two species. We encourage further conservation action to adopt and develop this Conservation Strategy to restore angel shark populations to robust levels and safeguard them throughout their range.