Changes to Common Skate Tagging

The Statutory Instrument (SI) to protect Scotland’s sharks that recently came into force has given common skate, tope and porbeagle the highest levels of protection in Scottish waters. Incredibly, it has taken 40 years to get successive governments and fisheries managers to recognise the impact of excessive commercial exploitation and act.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAIn our last SSTP newsletter we highlighted the fact that we intended ceasing new tagging of common skate in Loch Sunart, The Sound of Mull, The Firth of Lorne and The Sound of Jura later this year.

However as a result of the SI, we have now accelerated these plans and will cease tagging common skate in those areas (but continue recording recaptures) with immediate effect.  We do however continue to ask that fish caught in other Scottish waters be tagged, recorded and the data submitted to the tagsharks website.

Back in the 1970’s Dr. Dietrich Burkel had concerns about the common skate and founded the Glasgow Museums Tagging Programme, this was built on by Brian Swinbanks, Davy Holt (responsible for much of the data used today to estimate weights) and Bill Little and others and of course most recently by everyone supporting our Scottish Shark Tagging Programme.

We would like to say “a big thank you and well done” to all concerned – your work not only highlighted the issues, but also showed that a recreational sector delivering around £150 million/yr to the economy has minimal impact on stocks. That was recognised in the recent SI where provision was made to allow sea anglers to fish for the species on a ‘catch and return’ basis.

As comparatively little is known about the stock dynamics and migratory patterns of many other shark and ray species around the Scottish coastline we will be continuing to gather information on them as well as contribute to informed fisheries management.

We are sure all our efforts will convince the Scottish Government to take the necessary steps to ensure a healthy Scottish sea angling environment for years to come.

The SSTP Management Team


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