Special Events – A Brief History
The Scottish Shark Tagging Program (SSTP) didn’t exist at that time and Ken Collins from the UK Shark Tagging Program kindly offered to support research into our hypothesis that Loch Sunart and Loch Etive contained a unique resident population off the normally highly migratory spurdog. The event proved a great success and was attended by anglers from all over Scotland.
Two of these anglers Willie Kennedy and Stuart Cresswell enjoyed the event so much they decided they would like to run an event in the Solway focussing on the tope, which is protected in England and Wales but sadly not Scotland. They invited friend and graphic designer Jamie Soons into the team. and between them they created an event which has become the flagship of the SSTP – The Sharkatag.
There can’t be an angler in the UK or politician in Scotland that hasn’t heard of the Sharkatag.
The BBC covered the June 2009 event on the national Breakfast Show, aired national hourly news bulletins on BBC 1, Local TV, radio 2, 4, 5 Live and the World Service; in fact the BBC claim our call for Scottish Shark protection was received by 100 million people
Prior to this the EU commission had bowed to pressure from conservations groups like SSACN and introduced the Community Plan Of Action for sharks. (CPOA) to ensure
- Species-specific evaluation & monitoring of shark population status
- Establishing time/area closures to protect shark pupping & nursery areas
- Further restricting or prohibiting fishing in critical habitats of endangered sharks.
and put the emphasis on “member states” to gather the necessary data to ensure
- A deeper understanding of sharks & their role in ecosystems & fisheries
- Sustainable directed shark fisheries & properly regulated bycatch
The data gathered from the program will be used to input into Scottish Government shark management plans. The SSTP now has data from the long running Glasgow Museum skate tagging database and the Scottish tope data from the UKSTP
The final event; the Skate Tagathon was trial launched in April 2010 to draw attention to the need for the protection of the critically endangered common skate’s habitats. It was a great success and was repeated in subsequent years. However, due to the large amount of data we now have for common skate in the locations used for this event, it was decided that additional tagging was unnecessary. As a result, in 2013 this event evolved in to the Skate Re-Capture weekend. Additional tagging is not encouraged but the recapture information is still vital for further understanding of the worlds largest skate.
The format is the same for all annual events …… fish where you want, fish when you want, gather the data and hand back this info to the organisers who will in turn produce a report on the event highlighting both the catch reports and socio-economic benefit to the area.
The tagging data will be added to the SSTP data set which will over the years to come provide valuable information on how to regenerate our ailing shark populations.