Excellence in Research – Science & Engineering (Highly Commended 2014)

Dr Jane Williamson, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Ensuring sustainability of our sharks through new ageing methods

Humanity’s growing demand for protein has led to substantial pressure on oceanic ecosystems. Harvesting of predatory fish by industrial fishing techniques has lowered populations to less than 10% of their historic numbers. Sharks are especially vulnerable due to their low reproductive rates and delayed maturity. Their importance in marine ecosystems has led to considerable resources being directed towards their management and conservation. Underpinning such efforts is the need for valid ageing techniques for stock assessment. Our research has questioned traditional ageing techniques that use shark vertebral development, and has pioneered a new and accurate method for ageing sharks.

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