It means vulnerable species of sharks, skates and rays in Scottish waters will have protection over and above that under EU legislation; hopefully this will encourage the EU to step up to the mark and extend similar protection for them in all European waters.
In a press release, Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said : “With a landing ban across both commercial and recreational fisheries, we can help support stock recovery for vulnerable shark, skate and ray species. This legislation builds on Scotland’s leading protection measures for sharks – including our proactive decision in 2009 to strengthen the ban on barbaric shark finning.”
Analysis of the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP) data has shown that sea angling has minimal impact on stocks – the importance of that and the contributions of all the volunteers was recognised by Mr Lochhead who said :
“Recreational anglers will still be permitted to fish using the ‘catch and release’ method, while the tagging programme undertaken by anglers can continue. This important initiative is providing invaluable data about sharks in Scottish waters and will help inform policies about how best we can protect these stocks in the future”
Sea anglers were not the cause of stock depletion and are the ones actually doing the research so it seems only fair that they should be allowed to continue to enjoy their sport.
Sea angling attracts over 110,000 participants and contributes around £150 million/yr to the Scottish economy; other management solutions could have had very serious implications for anglers and all those businesses and coastal economies reliant on it.
There is still a lot more to be learnt about the stock dynamics and migratory patterns of Scotland’s inshore sharks; we will continue to gather information through the SSTP and lobby for inclusion in fisheries management to help ensure the future of sea angling in Scotland.