Shark species in the Clyde have all but disappeared.
Although most people know that the Clyde was once one of Europe’s prime destinations for cod, haddock, saithe and other white fish species, very few are aware that prior to 1960, 30% (by weight) of all demersal fish in the Clyde was made up by spurdog, thornback ray and tope.
Of course, once the bans on trawling were lifted in the 1960s and 1980s, and commercial exploitation was allowed to take place without restriction, stocks of all white fish were quickly depleted.
During the same period,those shark species all but disappeared too and what remain do not figure in the top ten predominant species.
What was the cause ?
Could it be through excessive exploitation, being used for pot bait, dying after being discarded or as a consequence of the depletion of the very foodstocks they were dependent on ?
Unfortunately there were no tagging programmes or systematic stock surveys in place to give an early warning of the declining populations.
The only real hope that the situation in the Clyde can be turned around and once more contain good sized white fish and members of the shark family, is for the government and its fisheries managers to accept the fact that nephrops trawling is the biggest single factor stopping the regeneration of the Clyde and take the necessary measures.