Thursday, March 17, 2011

Scottish Shark Conservation and Tagging

The Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP) is a branch of the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network whose objectives are to :
  • to tag and record data on many of the shark, skate and ray species found within Scottish coastal waters
  • Increase public awareness highlighting the need for shark protection
  • Encourage use of “codes of best practice”
  • to highlight sea anglers conservation efforts
  • show government agencies that sea anglers are a vital part of data gathering
  • and that properly managed sea angling stocks can provide huge socio economic benefits
  • to directly contribute to shark fisheries management
Joining the SSTP is free – just use the  ‘Contact Us’ page to send us an email.

Answers to some of the more frequently asked questions follow :

Why Save Sharks ?
Most sharks serve as top predators at the pinnacle of the marine food pyramid, and so play a critical role in ocean ecosystems. Directly or indirectly they regulate the natural balance of these ecosystems – at all levels – and so are an integral part of them.

The effects of removing sharks from ocean ecosystems, although complex and rather unpredictable, are likely to be ecologically and economically damaging.

Who can tag ?

The SSTP will be free to enter, subject to available funding, and available to all disciplines of sea angler, be they shore, small boat, club or charter anglers. Though the programme will aim to provide the greatest coverage through charter boats and clubs, as this will give the best concentrated use of the limited number of tags available each year. We will encourage all anglers to abide by the “codes of best practise” and may insist new taggers attend a short course at a local centre or spend time with an approved tagger.

What else will the SSTP be doing?
SSACN and the SSTP will work in partnership with government agencies like the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Marine Directorate and Fisheries Research Scientists (FRS) and academic institutions such as Millport Marine laboratory and Glasgow University to help provide a focal point for shark research.

We are also seeking funding for satellite tags and for stock survey assessments.

Commercial fishermen are a huge source of knowledge and we will endeavour to liaise with fishers to ensure best practice on discarded fish and hopefully use their knowledge to ascertain bycatch analysis.

Notifying the SSTP and anglers of recaptures ?
Rather than sending recapture details by post anglers will be able to enter details of a caught fish online by PC and receive details of any previous activity and the original ‘tagger’ will be notified that his/her fish has been recaptured, along with any other data, like days at liberty, distance travelled, weight/length gain, etc;

Will the data I provide be safe?
The SSTP will accumulate the tagging information on a database and this data will NOT be distributed to any group or body with any commercial fishing interests.

The control of data will be closely guarded, and only available in its ‘raw and total’ format to a limited number of ‘approved’ scientists. Any information given out from the database will be on a “Need to know” basis. A lot of effort you might ask, but we wish to allay fears that the information may be used by commercial fishing interests to the further detriment of stock levels

Further studies will be carried out from time to time on the whole database by selected ‘marine biologists’, who will be working directly for the tagging programme, their reports will also be made available to the taggers.

Will the SSTP be starting from scratch?
The Glasgow museum and the UK Shark Tagging Programme have agreed to input their existing data concerning Scottish sharks into the new database.

Special Events
The SSTP will run a series of events throughout the year to increase the number of fish caught and tagged.
The events also have a good social side and many tales are told, over a beer or two, about the “ones that got away”

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