A Charles Darwin University academic warns that a large number of the world's shark species is in danger of extinction and has called for the swift introduction of a broad range of protection measures.
Dr Peter Kyne lead-authored The Conservation Status of North American, Central American and Caribbean Chondrichthyans, which assesses the conservation status for nearly 300 species of sharks, rays, and ghost sharks (collectively known as chondrichthyan fishes) in North American, Central American, and Caribbean waters.
The assessments were conducted by the Shark Specialist Group (SSG) using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species criteria.
A CDU Research Fellow, Dr Kyne said the report documented that 13.5 per cent of the region's shark, ray, and chimaera species fell into the categories of Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable.
"These categories are associated with an elevated risk of extinction," Dr Kyne said.
"Rays, including skates, dominate the chondrichthyan species we classified as Critically Endangered or Endangered, signalling an alarming yet largely unnoticed trend."
The regional results presented in the report reflect the global status of chondrichthyans, in that an estimated one-quarter of species are threatened and the most endangered of these species are rays.
The most imperilled species in the region are sawfish, a group for which the IUCN has recently launched a special global conservation strategy, and which is also the focus of a CDU research project led by Dr Kyne.
Other threatened species include scalloped and great hammerheads, the Caribbean electric ray, the daggernose shark, as well as species of skates.
Based on the results in the report, Dr Kyne and other members of the SSG are urging international and national action on a number of fronts; including fisheries data collection, catch limits, full protection for Critically Endangered and Endangered species, enforcement, bycatch reduction and sustainable alternative livelihoods.