The Angel Shark, Squatina squatina, is listed as ‘Critically Endangered‘ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Historically, the Angel Shark‘s range extended from Scandinavia to North-western Africa, including the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. However it has now vanished from some areas, and is extremely uncommon throughout most of the remainder of its range.
Although not particularly sought after by fisheries, the Angel shark‘s habit of lying on the sea bottom makes it particularly vulnerable to by-catch in trawl fisheries. Over the last 50 years, trawling activity has increased, and as a result the population has declined dramatically, and has even been declared extinct in the North Sea.
All Squatina species are protected within three Balearic Islands marine reserves, where fishing for these species is forbidden. There is an urgent need to confirm the status of the Angel shark in the southern Mediterranean, Canary Islands and other areas where populations may still persist, so that appropriate conservation measures can be implemented as soon as possible.