Shark, Angel

Squatina squatina

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — All applicable methods
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — North East Atlantic
Stock detail — All Areas
Picture of Shark, Angel

Sustainability rating five info

Sustainability overview

Angel sharks are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN and therefore, are automatically red-rated.

Angel shark is an EU Prohibited Species and as such it is prohibited to target, retain, transship or land them. There is also a UK-wide Biodiversity Action Plan for the conservation and protection of the species. As of October 2017, they have received greater protection and are protected under the Bonn Convention as an Appendix I species.

Angel shark was historically an important commercial species. It was fished through the 19th and 20th century for its meat, liver and skin. It used to be called monkfish, however, when its populations declined to very low levels, the term “monkfish” became associated with the anglerfish species, Lophius piscatorius. They are not targetted, but may still be caught as bycatch in bottom trawls, tanglenets and gillnets and in recreational fisheries.

Angel sharks are ambush predators, which bury themselves into the sand and remain camouflage. They generally over-winter off Pembrokeshire and the pups have been reported in Cardigan Bay (in the summer months) and western Ireland (particularly Tralee Bay).

Want to help Angel Sharks? If you are based in Wales, check out the Angel Shark Project: Wales at The Angel Shark Project are trying to combat issues such as Angel Shark misidentification and accidental captures, through a best practice guide: or follow the #AngelSharkProjectWales on Twitter. To learn more, listen to the ZSL podcast on Angel Sharks here


Angel shark, Squatina squatina, is a large-bodied shark. It is an inshore species. A tagging study from the Celtic Sea shows that angel shark can migrate long distances.

Stock information

Criterion score: 1 info

Stock Area

North East Atlantic

Stock information

Angel sharks are deemed as a Critically Endangered species by the IUCN, they are an EU Prohibited species, are listed by OSPAR List of Threatened and Declining Species and are protected by the UK’s Wildlife and Countryside Act. Therefore, they are a red-rated species.

Due to their low occurance in surveys, the existing surveys available are not considered appropriate to monitor their abundance. However, their population is known to be very low. They are thought to be extirpated from parts of the North Atlantic. The population around Ireland is known to be very low compared to the historical time-series. There is a general declining trend in abundance since the 1980s.


Criterion score: 1 info

The Angel shark is a prohibited species which means that it is illegal to fish for, to retain on board, to tranship and to land angel shark in EU waters (Council Regulations (EC) 23/2010, 57/2011, 43/2012, 39/2013, 43/2014, 2015/104, 2016/72 and 2017/127) (WG2017). There is also a UK-wide Biodiversity Action Plan for the conservation and protection of the species. As of October 2017, Angel Sharks have received greater protection: they are an Appendix I species under the Bonn Convention (the same level of protection for a Whale Shark).

Commercial fishers are required to log all discards of Angel shark which are above >50 kg (Council Regulation (EU) No. 2017/127). Under UK law, it is prohibited to “intentionally disturb, target, injure or kill Angelsharks within 12nm of Welsh and English coastlines (Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981)( They may still be caught as bycatch and in this case, any catches should be promptly released unharmed to reduce the risk to the animal (WG2017). Spatial management is recommended to protect localised clusters of the species.

There are ongoing national observer programmes to collect data on discarding of Angel sharks (WG2017) and the Angel Shark Project: Wales is collecting data through volunteer programmes and surveys to determine more about their populations. Furthermore, genetic studies are ongoing to determine more about Angel sharks, their diversity, population structure and reproductive behaviour (

Capture Information

Criterion score: 1 info

Angel sharks are banned from being targeted, retained, landed or transhipped. They are mostly taken as bycatch in bottom trawls, tanglenets and gillnets and in recreational fisheries, though it remains on the Prohibited species list. Discard rates are unknown and observer programmes are rarely able to record bycatch and discard rates due to the rarity of the species. Angel sharks have been a popular recreational species due to its coastal distribution. However, most reported catches of the species are now as bycatch, particularly in trawl and gillnet fisheries.

Angel sharks are a red-rated species.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, European
Monkfish, Anglerfish
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


CMS. 2017. Urgent Protection Proposed for Some of the World's Most Known Species. Available at:

ICES WGEF REPORT 2017. Angel shark Squatina squatina in the Northeast Atlantic . Available at:

ICES. 2017. Report of the Working Group on Elasmobranchs .2017., 31 May-7 June 2017, Lisbon, Portugal. ICES CM 2017/ACOM:16. 1018 pp.

Angel Shark Network. 2018. Aim of the Angel Shark Project: Wales. Available at: