Monitoring elasmobranchs in marine protected areas: A Canadian case study of the Laurentian Channel.
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Scientific support for the application of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for shark and ray (herein elasmobranchs) conservation varies widely in current literature. Several MPAs around the globe have been created with the purpose of protecting elasmobranch species, however, their suitability and effectiveness are often questionable. Telemetry (electronic tagging) is widely used to better understand shark ecology and behaviour, yet the application of insight gained through these studies for conservation and management, particularly with respect to MPA efficacy, is inconsistent. A systematic literature review was conducted to determine how telemetry has been used to monitor and evaluate MPAs for elasmobranch species. Several aspects of telemetric MPA monitoring were investigated including the study area, duration, species, MPA restrictions and methodology. Results of the review are useful to inform the newly designated Laurentian Channel MPA (LCMPA) and its proposed conservation objectives to protect three species of elasmobranch: Porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus), Black Dogfish (Centroscyllium fabricii) and Smooth Skate (Malacoraja senta). Recommendations for an elasmobranch monitoring plan are discussed to inform management of the LCMPA. Carrying out these recommendations will serve to bridge the current gaps in knowledge of these species’ movements and distribution and aid elasmobranch species conservation in Canada.