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The importance of considering genetic diversity in shark and ray conservation policies

Domingues, RodrigoRodrigues, Hilsdorf, AlexandreWagner Silva, Gadig, OttoBismarck Fazzano
Conservation genetics 2018 v.19 no.3 pp. 501-525
Elasmobranchii, effective population size, fins, fisheries, fisheries management, genetic variation, germplasm conservation, haplotypes, heterozygosity, issues and policy, life history, marine fish, quantitative analysis, scientists, sharks, Asia
Many populations of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) are experiencing severe declines due to the high demand for shark fins in Asia, the activities of unregulated fisheries, and increases in shark and ray catches. Recently, the effects of the decline in the populations of marine fish species on genetic diversity have drawn increasing attention; however, only a few studies have addressed the genetic diversity of shark and ray populations. Here, we report the results of a quantitative analysis of the genetic diversity of shark and ray species over the past 20 years and discuss the importance and utility of this genetic information for fisheries management and conservation policies. Furthermore, we suggest future actions important for minimizing the gaps in our current knowledge of the genetic diversity of shark and ray species and to minimize the information gap between genetic scientists and policymakers. We suggest that shark and ray fisheries management and conservation policies consider genetic diversity information, such as the management unit, effective population size (Ne), haplotype and nucleotide diversity, observed heterozygosity, and allelic richness, because the long-term survival of a species is strongly dependent on the levels of genetic diversity within and between populations. In addition, sharks and rays are a group of particular interest for genetic conservation due to their remarkable life histories.