The date today is 27-02-09

Sharks

Fact sheets for Porbeagle Shark and Spurdog from the Shark Alliance.

Sharks are effectively being driven to the brink of extinction, they are more vulnerable to overfishing because they mature slowly and give birth to only a few young at a time.

They are prized for their meat, sold in the UK under pseudonyms like Rock Salmon; for their liver oil used in Omega-3 supplements, lipstick and hemorrhoid cream; and for their fins to make shark-fin soup.

In Scottish waters, sharks like the porbeagle and spurdog were once relatively common, but are now classed as "critically endangered";  spurdog, also called Rock Salmon on menus, are estimated to be at 5 per cent of historic levels.

While "finning" - when the fins are cut off sharks with the body dumped back in the sea - has been banned in European waters, there is an alarming mismatch between the number of fins for sale and the number of sharks caught worldwide.

The fin of a basking shark, legally protected by Europe, can fetch as much as £7,000 in Asia, while the average shark-fin sells for about £175 per lb.

[Update :: The following question was raised in the Scottish Parliament by John Scott (Ayr) (Con) : To ask the Scottish Executive how many permits it has issued in each of the last five years to allow the finning of sharks in Scottish waters.

Answered by Richard Lochhead: Permits have been issued, as follows, to Scottish registered fishing vessels which are part of the Anglo-Spanish fleet:

2004: 7 - 2005: 8 - 2006: 7 - 2007: 7.   end of update]

Dr Becky Boyd, of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said "What we need is a responsive fisheries ’stop’ measure, so that when fishers encounter numbers of sharks there is a temporary fisheries closure in that area….. Without this precautionary approach some of these sharks face extinction in UK waters."

The European Commission is moving very slowly towards managing shark species by trying to prevent targeted fisheries and reduce landings though it is arguable that it’s not really having a terribly great effect. If nothing is done about it, there is a danger of local extinction for some species.

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Established in 1997, the Shark Trust is a UK charity dedicated to the study, management and conservation of sharks, skates, rays and chimaera.

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The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network
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