Scottish sea anglers welcome EU shark plan

The EC has finally announced their conclusions and priority actions regarding the Community Plan of Action for Sharks (CPOA) which is a framework document that sets out a range of potential measures (both mandatory and voluntary) to be implemented at Member State, and European Community level.

The CPOA is essential because as a result of overfishing and poor fisheries management most European shark populations are in decline; one-third of assessed species are classified by IUCN as Threatened With Extinction.

The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN) has been lobbying both the EU and Scottish parliament for a coherent approach to shark conservation and management for a number of years.

According to Ian Burrett, SSACN’s Project Director, “This is a great starting point for our native sharks.

“Most sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they grow slowly, mature late and produce few young. Serious gaps remain in our understanding of shark biology and the recording of shark catches.  We look forward to working with the government to ensure the recommendations of the plan are carried out.

“We must do all we can to protect and sustainably manage these vulnerable species. Perhaps now we can also put an end to the barbaric practise of finning which allows the removal of fins and discarding the carcass. The UK is one of five nations that still issue these special permits and over 80 tonnes of shark fins are landed in the UK each year.”

The CPOA calls for a greater understanding of European sharks and to help facilitate this SSACN has recently launched the Scottish Shark Tagging programme. Data gathered from the programme will identify shark dynamics, migratory routes and growth rates and will help identify nursery and breeding areas.

Referring to the proposed Plan Of Action, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said, “We know that some shark populations in Scotland are critically endangered. As one of Europe’s most important fishing nations, we welcome the decision to prioritise this Shark Action Plan to ensure that sharks are given adequate protection. In Scotland we are working closely with the industry and NGOs, and we look forward to working with the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network to develop robust, workable procedures.”