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Canadian Pacific Shark Research Lab

Elasmobranchs research program

Elasmobranchs are a class of fish comprised of sharks, skates and rays. These fish have cartilaginous skeletons, hard teeth and well developed jaws. Within British Columbia there are three species of ray, ten species of skates and fourteen shark species. Big skate (Raja binoculata), longnose skate (Bathyraja interrupta) and sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus) are regularly taken as bycatch in British Columbia fisheries, while directed commercial fisheries for spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) have existed since the 1800s.

Ongoing research on elasmobranchs at the Pacific Biological Station includes:

Research is focused on the requirements for improved assessment and management. Researchers are working to determine the number and geographical limits of British Columbia elasmobranch populations and to obtain accurate life history parameters for those populations.

Stock Assessment

In 2001 an initial review of the biology and catch histories for elasmobranchs (excluding spiny dogfish) was produced for the Pacific Scientific Advice Review Committee (2001/129 (CSAS resdocs - 2001/129)). The research document represents an initial phase in developing stock assessment advice and management scenarios for skates and sharks in British Columbia

Additional assessments:

2003/019 Maritimes: Proceedings of the Canada/US Information Session on Spiny Dogfish; 4 April 2003.

2008/009 (CSAS pro - 2008/009) Maritimes: Proceedings of the Maritimes Region Science Advisory Process on the Assessment of Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias); 14-15 November 2007.

2011/071 (CSAS Pro - 2011/071) Pacific: Proceedings of the Pacific Region Science Advisory Process for Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthius) in British Columbia, Canada; May 17, 2010

2015/061 (CSAS Pro - 2015/061) Maritimes: Proceedings of the Regional Peer Review of the Northwest Atlantic Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias) Framework and Assessment; January 20-21, 2014, and May 29, 2014

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Photo: Spiny Dogfish

For more information about ongoing work on elasmobranchs at the Pacific Biological Station, email

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