Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans

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Research made visible: Sharkatag photo report

In 2010 Sportvisserij Nederland, the Dutch recreational angling union, and IMARES Wageningen (Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies) started a research project, focused on the population of smooth-hound sharks in the North Sea. All sharks, caught with a rod by recreational anglers during charter trips, get a tag with a unique number. Aim: a good estimate of the smooth-hound shark numbers along the Dutch North Sea coast and map the migration behaviour of Mustelus species through re-catch.

Sharkatag 2013

August 7, 8 and 9 brought another edition of Sharkatag to the Dutch waters. Each day, 11 vessels left Neeltje Jans to go fishing for sharks. The Dutch Shark Society had the honour of being invited on board on August 7 and 8, and used this great opportunity to document the research and meet Dutch shark anglers. Whatever your opinion about recreational angling in the Netherlands is: we were impressed by the knowledge of the fishermen, their careful handling of sharks and their enthusiasm for shark conservation. The valuable data collected will serve shark conservation. 800 sharks have already been tagged during charter trips and Sharkatag 2012. During Sharkatag 2013, 210 sharks were tagged, and that means the 1000th shark was tagged during this event! Dutch Shark Society Photographer Peter Verhoog made an extensive photo report of one of the Sharkatag trips.

On ‘our’ boat, the Pirate II, two rays of the species Dasyatis Pastinaca were caught, registered, measured and release again. It is the intention to Sportvisserij Nederland to tag rays in future to set up conservation projects.

The Dutch Shark Society wants to thank Sportvisserij Nederland and skipper René de Back and all anglers for this great opportunity to document research, their assistance and enthusiasm! Shark tagging will continue until October on 15 vessels, and interested anglers can contact the skippers.

Why is this research so important?

Sharks are very vulnerable to overfishing because of their slow and low reproduction rates. Sportvisserij Nederland wants to establish protection through catch- and-release regulations to conserve Mustelus species (Mustelus asterius and Mustelus mustelus. The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network succeeded: tagging projects and lobbying acties resulted in the protection of all sharks and rays along the Scottish Coast. Sportvisserij Nederland collaborates with this organisation and received permission to extend the Sharkatag initiative to the Dutch part of the North Sea. Sharks migrate through seas and boundaries, and both organisatios and research initiatives probably target the same shark population. Their have been re-catches on the Scottish Coast, Norway and the Gulf of Biscaye. This shows shark conservation is an international affair!






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