The coastal waters of Mauritania (Northwest Africa) contain large numbers of pelagic fish such as sardinella, sardine, mackerel and horse mackerel. Freezer-trawlers from the European Union (EU), mainly of Dutch origin, have exploited these resources since 1996. In 1998 the Dutch ship owners commissioned a study by the Netherlands Institute for Fisheries Research (ASG-WUR) into the long-term potential of pelagic species in this area. This study has gradually expanded into a joint research project with the Mauritanian Institute for Research on Oceanography and Fishery (IMROP), funded by the Dutch government. In order to collect precise and reliable data the catch of the EU pelagic trawlers, a scientific observer program was established. Observers record species composition of catches and discards, and they collect biological information on the target species. In addition they monitor accidental by-catches of large animals such as rays, sharks and dolphins. The purpose of this document is to facilitate the determination of these large by-catch species. From FAO identification guides, a selection has been made of species that are potentially present in the Mauritanian Exclusive Economic Zone. For each species, a picture and a brief description of the characteristics are given.
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