LIFE Project Cover Photo

SHARKLIFE – Urgent actions for the conservation of cartilaginous fish in Italy

Reference: LIFE10 NAT/IT/000271 | Acronym: SHARKLIFE



The endangered status sharks and rays in the Mediterranean Sea was highlighted by the IUCN study, ‘Red List 2007 Assessment of the conservation status of cartilaginous fishes (Chondrichthyans) in the Mediterranean’. The study shows that although the Mediterranean is a semi-enclosed sea, it hosts a diverse range of chondrichthyan – an estimated 80 species, comprising 45 species of sharks. At the heart of the Mediterranean region, Italy hosts 43 species of shark. The IUCN study found that the region has the highest percentage of threatened sharks and rays in the world. Around 42% of the 71 species evaluated are included on the Red List of endangered species (under the categories ‘Critically Threatened’, ‘Endangered’ or ‘Vulnerable’). The main threat to their survival is fishing, both commercial and leisure, in several bordering countries and in Italian seas in particular.


In line with the European Plan of Action for Cartilaginous Fishes, which was approved in 2009, this LIFE+ Biodiversity project aims to contribute to the conservation of cartilaginous fishes, particularly basking sharks and pelagic stingrays, in Italian seas by reducing the mortality rate caused by commercial and leisure fishing.

The project will promote the use of low-impact fishing devices for pelagic stingrays (circle hooks), develop a system to reduce accidental capture of basking sharks, implement a ‘tag and release’ policy for fishing tournaments, and carry out tailored training for fishermen, veterinarians and coast guard personnel who oversee controls on fishing.

Expected results:

  • An 80% reduction in catches of pelagic stingray (Pteroplatytrygon violacea), through the use of circle hooks;
  • An end to the catching of sharks and rays in the national fishing competitions through the implementation of a tag and release policy;
  • A significant reduction in catches of several species of sharks and rays due to the introduction of innovative fishing devices to reduce by-catch and due to the promotion of a tag and release policy among leisure fishermen;
  • The adoption of a specific plan of action for the conservation of sharks and rays by the authorities concerned;
  • The development of an innovative system for the reduction of accidental capture of basking sharks and other large pelagic species, which could be promoted on a large scale;
  • A greater consensus among fishermen and local communities about conservation policies and the sustainable use of marine resources;
  • Greater public awareness of biodiversity issues.


    Reference: LIFE10 NAT/IT/000271
    Acronym: SHARKLIFE
    Start Date: 01/10/2011
    End Date: 30/06/2015
    Total Eligible Budget: 1,337,640 €
    EU Contribution: 668,820 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Centro Turistico Studentesco e Giovanile
    Legal Status: PUBLIC
    Address: Via Andrea Vesalio 6, 00161, Rome, Italia
    Contact Person: Domenico IANNELLO
    Email: Send Email

    LIFE Project Map



    • Fish


    • endemic species
    • marine ecosystem
    • nature conservation


    • 0 - Non applicable (i.e.species project)


    • None or non applicable


    Name Type
    Centro Turistico Studentesco e Giovanile Coordinator
    Università della Calabria, Italy Participant
    Italian Federation of Sport Fishing and Underwater Activities (FIPSAS), Italy Participant
    Parco Nazionale dell'Arcipelago di La Maddalena, Italy Participant
    Area Marina Protetta delle Isole Pelagie, Italy Participant
    Fondazione CETACEA, Italy Participant
    AGCI AGRITAL, Italy Participant
    Consorzio per il Centro Interuniversitario di Biologia Marina ed Ecologia Applicata, Italy Participant