INTRODUCTION TO THE UK SHARK TAGGING PROGRAMME
The programme is designed to tag the majority of the shark species found within UK coastal waters
UK SHARK TAGGING PROGRAMME was the first
'Angler Driven' Programme of its type in the U.K. The programme aims at all
our larger species of shark, from Common Smooth Hound (Mustelus
mustelus) and Starry Smooth Hound (Mustelus asterias) to
Blue Sharks (Prionace glauca) Porbeagle Sharks (Lamna
nasus) and Mako Sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus ). In fact the
programme looks to address 8 primary species of shark that have rarely been
studied in any depth, with the tagging programme providing the 'Foundation
of Data'. With all bar one of the species being live-bearers, and thus especially
vulnerable to over-exploitation.
The programme was a long time in arriving in the U.K. - 10 years or more! Having seen first hand the benefits of programmes in Ireland, read of the works on the NMFS along the east coast of America with their Apex Predator Programme; "why haven't we got a tagging scheme in the U.K.?" - became the obvious question! The Irish programme organised by the Central Fisheries Board, was aimed at reviewing the socio-economic benefits of sharks in their waters with regard to tourist anglers. The American programme studies sharks as part of an ongoing management of a valuable resource both to commercial and recreational factors.
Both these programmes are tagging sharks to monitor life cycles of their fish in local and distant waters - so that through greater understanding of the fish they can develop the best fisheries management policies. Without the detailed knowledge of various shark species, very little would be done to conserve their populations, in healthy numbers. Here is where tagging comes in, it is the only non-destructive study method available. With recreational sea anglers playing a major role in the whole operation 74% of all the 6000+ Blue Sharks tagged in the NMFS Apex Predator Programme in the last 20+ years have been by anglers. No agency, government or otherwise can afford to pay scientists/marine biologists to effectively tag and release that number of fish! Anglers do it for free, and out of their love for the fish and for the sporting nature of their fish
Sue and Jeri Drake started attending conservation workshops aimed at sharks in 1990 and it soon became apparent that, unless anglers took the initiative and developed a programme themselves it would never happen. Discussions over the years ranged from threats to sharks in various oceans, possible breeding ground of Great Whites in the Med, tourist diving with Whale Sharks, but never the real problems of sharks in our own waters,. As a non-quota food fish species they were of little interest to MAFF (now DEFRA), who had higher priorities on their limited budget, and anyway sharks are not a major food fish when compared with Cod or Plaice
So, it has been left to the anglers! Sue and Jeri Drake developed an outline proposal for a Nationwide UK Shark Tagging Programme as far back as 1991, and have basically been seeking funding for it ever since. 1998 saw one of those rare moment of opportunity come along; with the motive and means being all in the right place at the right time! So the deed was done! The 1999 Preliminary Shark Tagging Programme (Tope) was born. This project was designed as a 'stepping-stone' to the full scale Nationwide Programme. Funded by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) it aimed to assess whether recreational sea anglers could tag sharks in U.K. waters - mainly Tope. Focussed around the Isle of Wight and the sports fishery operated by the Langstone Harbour Professional Boatmans Association to the east of the island. The project certainly proved a success - UK sea anglers could tag sharks!
1999, through the interest generated by the Preliminary Project, Sue and Jeri
Drake refined the earlier proposal to accommodate a system of 'catalyst style'
funding from WWF. For the first year the balance of funding was donated by
Angling Trade Association (ATA) with supplementary contributions by EFSA (Executive),
EFSA (UK) and South West Federation of Sea Anglers (SWFSA). The funding from
WWF over three years (2000, 2001 and 2002) was on a declining basis.
SHORT AND LONG TERM DEVELOPMENTS
For those interested in joining the UK Shark Tagging Programme, we would like for them to either contact us via:
Postal Mail at: UK Shark Tagging Programme, SOC, Southampton SO14 3ZH
Phone or Fax: (+44) 023 8059 6010 .
e-mail: UK Shark Tagging Programme
Whereupon we will forward a simple registration form, this is particularly pertinant to charter skippers, as we will be compiling entries on this web site. When replying by e-mail please let us have your full postal address so we can send you the relevant paperwork. Please note however that should you register as a tagger and tag no sharks within 2 years of the date of issue of the tags, we will request the return of the tagging kit issued.