Description and characterization of the artisanal elasmobranch fishery on Guatemala’s Caribbean coast
Small-scale shark and ray fisheries are conducted throughout Central America’s Caribbean coast. Yet, there is limited information regarding catch composition and diversity of these fisheries, especially in Guatemala. Surveys of catch landings were conducted in two of Guatemala’s primary Caribbean coastal shark and ray fishing communities, El Quetzalito and Livingston, between January 2015 and July 2017. Biological data from 688 landed chondrichthyans were collected, with 31 species (24 sharks, six rays and one chimaera) identified. The four most frequently captured species included Carcharhinus falciformis (30.2%), Sphyrna lewini (12.7%), Hypanus guttatus (12%) and Rhizoprionodon spp. (6.7%). Landed sharks contained most size classes with a high proportion of juveniles of species with low productivity. The large-bodied species C. falciformis and S. lewini were often recorded at sizes below known maturity; 96.6% and 85.1%, of the captured individuals were immature, respectively. This study can serve as a baseline to determine future trends in the elasmobranch fisheries conducted by Guatemala’s Caribbean coastal communities and support assessments on the persistence of the fisheries.