Thursday, June 4, 2009

Group Launches National Shark Tagging Effort

All we can say is - "Ach Aye, Kudos Lads!"

The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN) recently announced the launch of the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP) which will provide a central location for gathering the data necessary to fight for the protection of the shark, skate and ray species found within Scottish coastal waters.

Over the past few years, the stocks of many species of shark in Scottish waters have become severely depleted and the SSACN has long campaigned for Scottish governments to provide real leadership outside the commercial sector and work with them to develop programmes aimed at regenerating the stocks of interest to recreational sea anglers.

So far there has been a high degree of reluctance to act, though now the EC has recently adopted a Community Plan Of Action for sharks which places the emphasis on the member states to gather data for a deeper understanding of sharks and their role in ecosystems and fisheries, there may be additional pressure to do so.

“The SSTP programme will help fill many of the serious gaps which remain in our understanding of shark biology” said Ian Burrett, SSACN's Project Director, “Tagging is one of the few non-destructive assessments of sharks available and will help provide some of the much needed data for species migrations, growth rates, stock populations, make-up and fluctuations.”

The SSTP will initially combine the current Common Skate and Tope data gathering efforts of SSACN and other groups, and then extend them to include additional species such as Bull Huss, Spurdog and Rays. The resultant data will be made available via an interactive website to allow immediate feedback regarding previous captures, distances travelled etc.

SSACN will be running a series of special tagging events each year to promote the tagging programme and to raise the awareness of the need for shark protection.