Volunteer anglers from all over the UK will be descending upon south west Scotland once again in an attempt to tag as many inshore sharks as possible from boats, kayaks and the shore over the three-day period 18th to 20th June.
Sharkatag is just one of the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network’s on going projects, aimed at highlighting the urgent need for shark, ray and skate conservation in Scottish waters and raising the public awareness of sea angling and its contribution to the economies of many coastal communities.
One of the main organizers Stuart Cresswell said. “Last years Sharkatag event was a huge success with over 200 volunteer sport fishermen catching, tagging and releasing over 200 sharks. The event received widespread publicity on prime time TV news bulletins and also benefited local businesses to a value in excess of £40,000.
“Our aim for the 2010 event is to increase participation and publicity of the event further and to clearly highlight the fact to Scotland’s politicians that a live shark in the sea is actually worth over 20 times more than a dead shark on the fishmongers slab.”
According to Ian Burrett, SSACN’s Projects Director “ The focus for this year’s Sharkatag event will be the tope shark which grows up to 100 lb. SSACN believes Luce Bay and the Solway are a breeding ground for tope, yet unlike in England and Wales, tope are not protected in Scottish waters and their numbers are dropping year by year. We would like tope to be protected in all EU waters, but need our own Government to support that aim.”
Other shark species such as rays, bull huss and smoothound will also be tagged using Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP ) tags, which carry a unique number, are carefully attached to the sharks. Details like weight, sex and length are recorded and entered on a database. When the shark is recaptured, the data can be analysed to provide evidence of species migrations, growth rates, stock populations, make-up and fluctuations. See www.tagsharks.com
Anglers signing up for Sharkatag at on the SSTP website will each receive a Participants Pack with details about the weekend; SSACN tope and small shark handling best practice guides; a list of suggested launch sites and fishing spots; tagging instruction ; fish return forms and one years free membership of SSACN.
The severe decline in the stocks of several species of shark in Scottish waters has been apparent for the last two decades, but in the past the voices of anglers have been ignored by governments – even though Scottish sea angling supports many livelihoods and business opportunities and contributes more than £150 million per year to the Scottish economy.
However, Ian Burrett has some optimism for the future – “I believe as a result of our work and that of other NGO’s, shark conservation has certainly moved on in recent years, the Scottish Government is now starting to listen and many sharks species now receiving some form of EU protection.
“Also, thanks to recent funding from the SNH and Argyll and Bute Leader program, we have been able to employ a shark specialist which will enable us to carry out more vital research to help stocks of Scotland’s endangered sharks to recover by identifying and protecting shark nursery and breeding grounds.”