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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Natural history, fisheries, and conservation of the Pacific guitarfish: signs of trouble in Peruvian waters

Adriana Gonzalez Pestana*, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, Ximena Velez-Zuazo, Jeffrey C. Mangel

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: This review reports—with a focus on Peru—on the distribution, life-history, ecology, fisheries, historic and contemporary cultural importance, commerce, and management of the Pacific guitarfish Pseudobatos planiceps. In the Eastern Pacific, Peru represents its most important habitats. The only 2 identified Important Shark and Ray Areas (ISRA) for this species are in Peru for feeding purposes. Other critical habitats are unidentified (e.g. reproductive). Most demographic parameters are unknown, since only the length-at-maturity and fecundity has been determined. This species is a mesopredator that feeds on benthic invertebrates but also on Peruvian anchoveta. This trophic plasticity is unique among species within this genus. Peru has one of the longest species-specific landing datasets (56 yr) for all guitarfish assessed which shows a 98% decrease from peak landings in 1981 to a low in 2004, yet fishing effort has been increasing during this period, suggesting that depletion went unnoticed in the 1980s. The Pacific guitarfish has been the third most landed ray species in Peru by artisanal fisheries, mainly between central and northern Peru. Adults are mainly targeted using gillnets and as bycatch in trawling fisheries. Mid-northern Peru has a millennial-old tradition in its capture and consumption. No specific regulation is in place for the Pacific guitarfish. Along its distributional range, fisheries in Peru are the main cause of population decline; therefore, there is an urgency to halt this trend to protect the Pacific guitarfish. This review establishes a baseline, identifies information gaps, and provides recommendations to guide research and management for the species.