Putting the spotlight on Mediterranean angel sharks

The Mediterranean is a hotspot of extinction risk for chondrichthyans (sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras), making it a priority region for conservation action. Of the 73 species of Mediterranean chondrichthyans assessed by IUCN, 50% of rays and 54% of sharks face an elevated risk of extinction, with angel sharks an example of one of the families where all species present in the region are threatened.

Today sees the launch of the Mediterranean Angel Sharks: Regional Action Plan which provides a framework for conservation action for angel sharks in the Mediterranean.

Living in coastal waters and growing to over 1.5 metres long, angel sharks are at risk from fishing and habitat degradation. Three species of Critically Endangered angel sharks are present in the Mediterranean:

  • Sawback Angelshark (Squatina aculeata),
  • Smoothback Angelshark (Squatina oculata), and
  • Angelshark (Squatina squatina).

Despite protections in place, these species remain exposed to fisheries pressure.

Working with an array of organisations from within the Angel Shark Conservation Network and across the Mediterranean[1], as well as with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Centre (SPA/RAC), the Shark Trust has led on the development of the Mediterranean Angel Sharks: Regional Action Plan. This roadmap is designed to focus efforts to help restore these enigmatic species to robust populations in the region.

With over 20 coastal states and territories, the complex nature of the Mediterranean creates further need for highly collaborative action to build capacity for angel shark conservation. As such, a series of SubRegional Action Plans will be developed to facilitate further coordinated action. These will focus on subareas which are high priority regions for angel sharks having factored in threats, contemporary sightings, capacity etc.

Direct threats in each subregion will vary, meaning that actions must be tailored accordingly, and regional stakeholders engaged. This Action Plan will be presented to CMS Range States to provide opportunity to develop an annex including high priority activities which need to be implemented on a governmental level by CMS Parties.

With fisheries and habitat degradation identified as predominant threats to angel sharks in the Mediterranean, the priority Goals of the RAP are focused on these two threats. In addition, an underlying goal focuses on the implementation of legislation and regulations to ensure both the species and their critical habitats are better protected.

The work to deliver the true potential of this plan will require careful coordination, and the Mediterranean Angel Sharks: Regional Action Plan should be considered as an invitation, an opportunity for governments, stakeholders and NGOs to collaborate and tailor the future for these Critically Endangered species. 

► Download the Mediterranean Angel Sharks: Regional Action Plan (ENGLISH).

Find out more about our work on angel sharks.

[1] Angel Shark Project: Canary Islands, Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie (INAT), Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM), iSea, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), Marine Biology in Libya, National Research Council, Nature Link, Save the Med Foundation, Submon, University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, WWF Mediterranean Marine Initiative, Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig, Zoological Society of London.

Vision of the Mediterranean Angel Sharks: Regional Action Plan

Mediterranean angel sharks are restored to robust populations fulfilling their ecological roles in healthy ecosystems.

VISION - Des populations robustes d’anges de mer sont rétablies en Méditerranée et remplissent leurs rôles écologiques dans des écosystèmes sains.

VISIÓN - Los angelotes del Mediterráneo son recuperados hasta poblaciones robustas que cumplen su función ecológica en ecosistemas sanos.

الرؤية - استعادة أسماك قرش الملاك المتوسط قوتهم السكانية لكي يؤدون أدوارهم البيئية في النظم الإيكولوجية السليمة

GOAL 1 -
Fisheries-based angel shark mortality is minimised in the Mediterranean

GOAL 2 - Angel shark habitat is identified and protected

UNDERLYING GOAL 3 - National legislation for angel sharks is established, implemented and enforced

OBJECTIF 1 - La mortalité des anges de mer causée par l’activité de pêche est réduite en Méditerranée

OBJECTIF 2 - L'habitat de l’ange de mer est identifié et protégé

OBJECTIF SOUS-JACENT 3 - Une législation nationale pour les anges de mer est établie, mise en œuvre et appliquée


OBJETIVO 1 - La mortalidad de tiburones ángel basada en la pesca se minimiza en el Mediterráneo

OBJETIVO 2 - Se identifica y protege el hábitat de los tiburones ángel

OBJETIVO SUBYACENTE 3 - Se establece, se implementa y se hace cumplir la legislación nacional para los tiburones ángel


الهدف 1 - خفض معدل وفيات ملاك سمك القرش المستندة إلى مصايد الأسماك في البحر المتوسط.

الهدف 2 - تحديد موائل سمك قرش الملاك وحمايته.

الهدف الأساسي 3 - وضع التشريعات الوطنية لأسماك قرش الملاك وتنفيذها وإنفاذها.


Angelshark Collaborator logos

Project funded by:

Shark Conservation Fund