Greater protection for Elasmobranchs in Scotland
Greater protection for shark, skate and ray
The Nature of Scotland – Autumn 2011 – Issue 13
New rules are being drafted to increase the protection of vulnerable species of shark, skate and ray in Scotland.
A protection order for the species will go to the Scottish Parliament for approval, which will provide further safeguards for 26 vulnerable and endangered sharks, skates and rays, including tope, spurdog and common skate.
The proposals will extend the current provisions, which prevent the landing to market of some of these species by commercial fishermen. This will be extended to cover fishing by recreational sea anglers as well.
The new order will mean that only catch and release by rod and line will be permitted, which will allow recreational sea anglers to continue to tag these species. Tagging increases our scientific knowledge of shark, skate and ray in Scottish waters, while ensuring that they are returned to the sea alive.
Fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead said that protecting vulnerable marine species is crucially important. “Some shark, skate and ray populations are critically endangered,” he commented, “and are already protected from commercial fishing. However, these species need additional protection and so Scotland intends to introduce a new protection order to help stock recovery.”
Ian Burrett, of the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network, praised the efforts of volunteers in the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme. “We’ve shown that anglers can fish for these endangered species in an environmentally friendly way and make a positive contribution to the Scottish economy,” he remarked.
Shark, skate and ray species generally have slow reproductive rates, making them highly vulnerable to overexploitation. A number of vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species therefore either have a zero total allowable catch or are banned species for commercial fishermen within the European Union.
Scotland plans to introduce the protection order to include recreational sea anglers in current conservation provisions. This will prohibit all catching, inboarding and landing except for catch and release by rod and line of specific shark, skate and ray species.
Source / PDF : The Nature of Scotland – Autumn 2011 – Issue 13