The Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP) is a project run by the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network www.ssacn.org; its objectives are 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”
- Highlight sea anglers conservation efforts
- Show that sea anglers, as ‘Citizen Scientists’, are a vital part of data gathering
- Show that properly managed sea angling stocks can provide huge socio economic benefits, and
- Can directly contribute to shark fisheries management
The SSTP is run by a Project Director, supported by Project Coordinator(s) and a Special Events Team.
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 is available to all disciplines of sea angler, be they shore, small boat, club or charter anglers. We encourage all anglers to abide by our “codes of best practise” and 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 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.
Commercial fishermen are a huge source of knowledge and we endeavour to liaise with them to ensure best practice on discarded fish and use their knowledge to ascertain bycatch analysis.
Notifying the SSTP and anglers of recaptures ?
Rather than sending recapture details by post anglers can enter details of a caught fish on-line and receive details of any previous activity; 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 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 is closely guarded, and only available in its ‘raw and total’ format to a limited number of ‘approved’ scientists under a strict confidentiality agreement. Any information given out from the database is on a “Need to know” basis. A lot of effort you might think, 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 may 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.
Did the SSTP be start from scratch?
The Glasgow Museum and the UK Shark Tagging Programmes provided their existing data concerning Scottish sharks to the SSTP.
The SSTP run a series of events throughout the year to provide a special focus on data gathering.
The events also have a good social side and many tales are told, over a beer or two, about the “ones that got away”