This year’s Summer Angling Festival (3rd – 5th June) was a great success that brought the public and anglers together in a much larger way than ever before.
Sharkatag, our flagship event, had been successfully run since 2008 but for 2016 it was time to add something new, keep it fresh and really celebrate our tagging work, the efforts of recreational anglers and our outreach programmes.
In 2015, the SSACN team grew with the addition of a new Outreach Officer, Sam King. Her newly created outreach programme that introduces adults and children to the sport of angling and to the world of marine conservation has gone from strength to strength. It made sense to incorporate this great work with the existing outreach efforts of the SSTP Project Officer, Ed Wright. So, with shark tagging, fishing and outreach happening all together over the same long weekend in June…it really was a Summer Festival.
The outreach events around Portpatrick and at the Sands of Luce Holiday park were a great success. The two days saw over 500 people reached. We had children identifying shark and ray egg cases, playing giant educational floor games to learn about sharks and the marine environment, rock pooling, scavenger hunts and everyone loved our touch tanks. Children got to see first hand some of the amazing creatures that are just meters away in our near shore waters including velvet swimmer crabs, star fish, sun stars, sea urchins, lugworms, lobsters and much much more.
On the 3rd day we had angling taster sessions. We spent three hours with a total of 19 kids who had never even held a rod before. All were improved massively and really enjoyed learning how to cast and pretend to be a fish on the end of a line! Following this we did a beach clean and filled four bin liners with cans, bottles, rope, carrier bags and more.
Sharkatag saw more than a dozen boats out in Luce Bay tagging for conservation purposes and with a new competition element to the event lots of great prizes were issued. The longest shark caught and tagged was a 159cm tope by Steven Toner on Naughty Nic, three boats Danny Buoy, Summer Wine and Castaway tied for most shark species with five each, Danny Kay won biggest ray with a 59cm wingspan, nominated sharks winner was Danny Buoy at 293cm and last but not least our Junior winner was Danny Kay.
The boat team species hunt saw first prize going to Castaway with an impressive 20 species and the shore event went to an equally impressive 12 species by Bradley Burrett! Our newest event was the Shore Pegged Sweepstake which was won by Davie Little with 109cm. Davie also caught the longest fish, a 32cm grey gurnard.
Well done to everyone who took part, we hope you had as much fun as we did and we look forward to welcoming you to next year’s event which we hope will be even bigger and better.