The SSTP were recently invited to Belfast to provide some skate tagger training to members of the Ulster Wildlife and people from the Department of Environments Marine Division. The Marine Division have been tasked with managing and issuing the licenses that are now required in Northern Ireland to tag common skate. The skate are a priority species in NI and you cannot “kill, injure or take” them within six nautical miles. Wildlife Order number 5 even protects the fish from being disturbed and therefore rules out recreational fishing for them under any circumstances.
The department has issued just one license so far and will only be issuing them after they have received proper tagger training based on that which the SSTP delivered. The training covers: what can be achieved through tagging, how to handle skate, how and where to tag them and, most importantly, how to recognise and minimise stress.
Seven people attended the tagging and instructor course delivered by our Project Officer. From Ulster Wildlife we had: Rebecca Hunter, Dave Wall, Conor Bush, Dylan Gray, Kenneth Bodles from the RSPB and Joe Breen and Gary Burrows from the DOE Marine Division. All attendees now have the recources required to deliver their own tagger training course in Northern Ireland.