Luce Bay tope
Luce Bay tope

TOPE will be the main target for the Scotland’s second Sharkatag weekend, scheduled for this June.

The event, which last summer attracted more than 200 volunteer participants and generated more than £40,000 for the local economy in the Solway area of south-west Scotland, was recognised as the biggest sea angling conservation exercise ever mounted in the UK.

Stuart Cresswell, Ayr harbourmaster and one of the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN) organisers, says the aim for this year is to increase participation and publicity and to draw the plight of sharks to the attention of politicians. He says: “A live shark in the sea is actually worth over 20 times more than a dead shark on a fishmonger’s slab.”

SSACN says severe declines in some shark species has been evident in Scottish waters for the last 20 years, but anglers’ voices have been largely ignored by successive governments. Last year a Government study proved that recreational sea angling was worth £140m a year to the Scottish economy.

Ian Burrett, Project Director, SSACN

Ian Burrett, SSACN’s projects director said: “The focus for this year’s event, will be the tope which grows up to 100lb. We believe Luce Bay and the Solway are a breeding ground for tope, yet unlike England and Wales, they are not protected in Scottish waters and their numbers are dropping year by year.

“We would like tope to be protected in all EU waters, but need our own Government to support that aim.”

Other shark species such as rays, bull huss and smoothhound will also be tagged and the data delivered to the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme in an effort provide scientific evidence of species densities and fluctuations, migration and growth rates.

The event takes place from June 18-20. Full details are available here.

Read an introduction to James Thorburn, Scotland’s first Shark Project Officer, here.