AROUND 200 volunteer sea anglers from all over the UK are expected in south-west Scotland in June for what is expected to be yet another record-breaking demonstration of dedication by the conservation-focused sportsmen and women.

The sea angling community, which has already demonstrated its commitment to endangered marine species, today officially launched Sharkatag 2009, its flagship project for this summer.

The event, based in the Solway, aims to highlight the plight of shark, ray and skate whose numbers are in severe decline in Scottish waters but remain outside officially-approved protection schemes due to an absence of specific scientific data.  It also seeks to raise the public profile of sea angling as a key contributor to local economies as part of a sport which generates more than £150m a year in Scotland.

Sharkatag takes place from June 12-14 and follows on from the success last November of the two-day spurdog tagathon in lochs Sunart and Etive.

Ian Burrett, projects director of the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network, the the forceful campaigning organisation, said yesterday:

Ian Burrett, Project Director, SSACN

Ian Burrett, Project Director, SSACN

“Governments say they require research-based evidence but have never put programmes in place to gather the necessary data for sharks. SSACN’s tagging programmes will help fill that gap by gathering valuable data regarding the growth rate, migration, non-natural predation, population and stock fluctuations of various species.”

In Scottish waters, sharks like the porbeagle and spurdog were once relatively common, but are now classed as “critically endangered”; spurdog, also called Rock Salmon on menus, are estimated to be at 5 per cent of historic levels.

Organisers, Willie Kennedy and Stuart Creswell say anglers from as far away as Yorkshire, Kent, Dorset and Cheshire have already signed up for the event. Registration costs £10 per angler.

Anglers signing up for Sharkatag will each receive a participants’ pack with details about the weekend; SSACN tope and small shark handling best practice guides; a list of suggested launch sites and fishing spots; tagging instruction ; fish return forms and one year’s free membership of SSACN.

Pressure from SSACN is already winning recognition for anglers’ views at increasing numbers of task forces, advisory bodies, and in legislative programmes which are being introduced at all government levels.

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