Scyliorhinus canicula (Linnaeus 1758), Small-spotted catshark (Scyliorhinidae)
Author: Ronald Fricke, Germany
1. Description of the habitat/autecology of the species
The small-spotted Catshark Scyliorhinus canicula is a demersally living shark species found at depths of 3-110 m, rarely to 400 m. It is oviparous with a single egg laid per oviduct at a time, spawning in November to July and attaches its egg-cases to algae and sea-grasses. Juveniles hatch after 8-9 months of development. (Fricke, 1987: 42; Froese & Pauly, 2005). Adults grow slowly and mature after 3-5 years. The species lives on sandy, coralline, algal, gravel or muddy bottoms; it is rarely found in mid-water. The small-spotted catshark feeds on molluscs and crustaceans, small cephalopods, polychaete worms, and small bony fishes. Maximum total length 100 cm, maximum total weight 1,32 kg, maximum reported age 9 year (Froese & Pauly, 2005).
2. Distribution (past and present)
Distributed in Kattegat area only. Outside the HELCOM area, the species is found from Senegal to Norway in the eastern Atlantic. Genetically separated populations which probably form a distinct subspecies occur in the Mediterranean Sea.
3. Importance (sub-regional, Baltic-wide, global)
According to the definition in HELCOM (2007), the species is considered of local importance in the HELCOM area.
4. Status of threat/decline
In the HELCOM area, this species is classified as endangered (EN) according to IUCN criteria, and classified as a HELCOM high priority species (HELCOM, 2007). The species is listed as data deficient (DD) in Sweden and it is forbidden to fish for and land in Swedish waters. Not listed on the global IUCN red list. It is considered to increase around the UK (ICES, 2006).
5. Threat/decline factors
This species is threatened by fisheries (caught as by-catch in demersal fisheries and also as a target species) and probably also by habitat loss due to eutrophication, sand and gravel extraction etc. It is not considered rare, but as sensitive to human activities. It is not a keystone species.
6. Options for improvement
Small-spotted catshark would benefit from a sustainable fisheries management, including restrictions to benthic fisheries (trawl, industrial fisheries, etc.) or marine protected areas with fishery restrictions. As the main threats for the species occur outside the HELCOM area in the neighbouring OSPAR area, OSPAR could be requested to consider providing additional protection for this species.
Fricke R. 1987. Deutsche Meeresfische. Bestimmungsbuch. Hamburg (DJN), 219 pp.
Froese R. & Pauly D. (eds) 2005. FishBase. Available in: www.fishbase.org, version (11/2005).
HELCOM 2007. HELCOM Red list of threatened and declining species of lampreys and fish of the Baltic Sea. Baltic Sea Environmental Proceedings, No. 109, 40 pp. Available in: http://www.helcom.fi/stc/files/Publications/Proceedings/bsep109.pdf