Elasmobranchs are a class of fish that is comprised of sharks, skates and rays. These fish have cartilaginous skeletons, hard teeth and well developed jaws. Within British Columbia there are three species of ray, ten species of skates and fourteen shark species. Big skate (Raja binoculata), longnose skate (Bathyraja interrupta) and sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus) are regularly taken as bycatch in British Columbia fisheries, while directed commercial fisheries for spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) have existed since the 1800s.
Ongoing research on elasmobranchs at the Pacific Biological Station includes:
Research is focused on the requirements for improved assessment and management. Researchers are working to determine the number and geographical limits of British Columbia elasmobranch populations and to obtain accurate life history parameters for those populations.
In 2001 an initial review of the biology and catch histories for elasmobranchs (excluding spiny dogfish) was produced for the Pacific Scientific Advice Review Committee (2001/129). The research document represents an initial phase in developing stock assessment advice and management scenarios for skates and sharks in British Columbia. In 2009, an assessment is planned for spiny dogfish.
For more information about ongoing work on elasmobranchs at the Pacific Biological Station, please contact Jackie King.