Spatial Ecology and conservation of hammerheads (Sphyrna zygaena) in Peru

Claudia Ampuero

Marine resources are of vital importance to Peru, yet are increasingly threatened through overfishing, pollution and the loss of keystone predators such as sharks. Hammerhead and other shark species, especially juveniles, are caught along the northern Peru coast by inshore fishers, but increasingly overfished, threatening the fishers’ livelihood. From 1997 to 2013, landings over 8700t of S. zygaena have been reported in Peruvian artisanal fisheries. Given slow reproduction of sharks its fishery is not sustainable over time. This project will seek both to expand knowledge of the spatial ecology of the smooth hammerhead shark, to determine the relationship between the heavily fished coastal juvenile nursery areas and potential foraging, mating and pupping areas used by the adults. This will be tackled by tracking the movement of individuals through acoustic tagging. The results will inform regulations intended to maintain the sustainability of the fisheries and the conservation of hammerhead shark in coastal waters, thus supporting the livelihood of fishers along the northern coasts. The project will also build capacities of four early-career conservationists to conduct scientific research, who in turn will continue to undertake studies directed at supporting the sustainability of Peruvian coastal waters.