A project designed to help protect British shark populations has been launched by The Co-operative.
Focusing on ports in Yorkshire, Humberside, Lancashire and Cumbria, The Co-operative, in partnership with the Shark Trust, is working alongside the commercial fishing industry to increase knowledge of shark populations in the region and improve their long-term prospects.
Over half of British shark species are assessed as threatened with extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Sharks are slow growing and tend to have few young, so accidental catches can rapidly cause their populations to decline.
The project will supply training in species identification to improve recording of species and will include a range of practical support materials including at-sea identification guides. The data gathered will support sustainable fisheries management in British waters.
Chris Shearlock, sustainable development manager at The Co-operative, said: “We know shark populations in British waters have declined dramatically in recent years but as little importance has traditionally been given to shark stocks compared to more commercial species, detailed information for individual species is hard to ascertain.
“We are providing species identification training with a range of support materials to ensure sharks, which are vital to the health of our fisheries, receive the level of protection they need.”
Ali Hood, director of conservation at The Shark Trust said: “The Irish and North Seas support a rich diversity of shark, skate and ray species, many of which have experienced significant population declines in recent decades. The Shark Trust welcomes support from The Co-operative which will enable the Trust to engage practically with the fishing industry in the North of England, working towards a sustainable future for shark fisheries.”
Dr Judith Clarke, chair of the North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority said: “Understanding of the shark, skate and ray populations in the Irish Sea is currently insufficient to implement appropriate management measures to protect these species.
“This collaboration with local fishermen and their representative organisations to enhance the recording of catches through improved species identification skills is timely, and its aim to increase knowledge of our fisheries and is very welcome.”
Source: The Co-operative Group