Herald spurdog tagging

In today’s Sunday Herald there is a full page regarding spurdog and the SSACN tagging programme – the full text may be found at http://tinyurl.com/5qb5yj but a synopsis follows.

The fight to save the Spurdog SharkOverfishing prompts anglers to descend upon lochs in a mass effort to tag critically endangered species – By Gordon Mack

IT IS never going to become a cuddly toy like the panda, and it lacks the big cat mystique of the Siberian tiger. But the predatory spurdog, once one of the eastern Atlantic’s most prolific small sharks, is equally threatened with extinction in Scottish waters.

Next weekend, Scottish sea anglers will aim to put the bite on fisheries minister Richard Lochhead when they carry out a voluntary two-day tagging exercise aimed at delivering evidence to support their plea for the creation of a marine reserve to help the species recover.

More than 60 anglers will take to the waters of Loch Sunart and Loch Etive in a mass effort to tag what they believe are refuge populations of the shark whose numbers have dropped so low it is now on conservationists’ lists of "critically endangered" creatures.

In little over a decade, numbers of the spurdog, which once roamed in "packs" five miles square, have shrunk dramatically to around 5% of their original biomass, due, the conservationists say, to intense overfishing by bottom trawlers and long-liners.

SSACN project director Ian Burrett  "Even though the spurdog is listed as critically endangered in the NE Atlantic by the IUCN and WWF, cabinet secretary Lochhead and the Marine Directorate still require further evidence through field-based research before they are willing to take any action to protect them, tagging is the only way we can meet their evidential needs"

The SSACN wants the government to designate the lochs as Marine Protected Areas, a new EU-designated habitat, as quickly as possible in order to give the shark a chance to regenerate. European countries have signed up to create a network of MPAs by 2012.

Next weekend’s results will be collated and analysed by the UK Shark Tagging Programme. Tracking the sharks’ movements at sea is the next objective, but SSACN need to raise £25,000 to pay for tags and satellite time.

A Scottish government spokesman said it recognised the "serious condition" of spurdog stocks. "To this end, we have supported action by the European Commission to prevent directed fisheries on spurdog by all European member states in all waters of the northeast Atlantic, not just Scottish waters. These measures came into force this year. This offers maximum protection for spurdog stocks across the whole of their natural range," he said.

Category: Shark Bites

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