For most people the problems are out of sight, so out of mind, but not for sea kayakers like our Forum's UK Simon who participated in a shark tag & release program in 2007 funded by the World Wildlife Fund. He shares here some photos and comments.
sharks coming aboard (picture left) - we don't kill or injure the sharks,
we catch them as part of the World Wildlife Funds (WWF) conservation program
- so they have to be played to the kayak still fit enough to be able to
endure the stress of measuring (we can't accurately weigh them in the
kayaks) and tagging and still be strong enough to be released successfully.
A chinagraph pencil on a divers slate holds the info - then this is transferred
to the tagging cards back on dry land.
The bigger sharks take some handling. Bude is the target area for our tagging campaign for several reasons - it is on the north coast of Cornwall, so in the lee from the prevailing Southwest winds. There is plenty of accommodation and a nice general area - but more importantly, the sharks are within a couple of miles of launch! They generally run around the 250lb - 400lb mark early and late, in the middle of the summer the youngsters are about - 80lbs - 150lbs is more like it, and it would be very rare to run into a big one during this period. So end of July/August is the timing.
However, this year we had a longliner move into the bay and he has caught over 100 large porbeagles to his boat alone.....absolutely destroying the breeding stock. Porgies are VERY slow growing and they are on the red list too - if the fishing for them doesn't stop they will be fished out within 10 years.
Blue sharks are also very rare over here now, certainly on the channel coast. We used to get 10 or more runs a day from my Dad's charter boat in the 70s - now you would be lucky to get a couple on a good day. Again, they have been fished out, mostly by the French who are trawling them as pelagics, along with many hundreds, if not thousands, of dolphins and porpoises.
A shame that nothing ever came of fishing restrictions proposed this past December.
The Government over here is spineless and has just given in to commercial pressure TO NOT RAISE the bass minimum landing size to 40cm (15 or 16 inches? - about 2lbs) from its current 36cm (12-14 inches and just over 1lb) at which size NONE OF THE BASS HAVE SPAWNED - it is absolute madness. The fisheries regulations are a total mess and not enforced, for fear of adverse publicity.........work that one out.
Simon is paddling the sit-on-top Kaskazi Dorado Kayak - Read his review
Press Release May 08 From IUCN. Read full report by clicking the
"You can swim but you can't hide - more oceanic sharks on the IUCN Red List"
The increasing demand for the delicacy 'shark fin soup', driven by rapidly growing Asian economies, means that often the valuable shark fins are retained and the carcasses discarded. Frequently, discarded sharks and rays are not even recorded.
Sharks and rays are particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to their tendency to take many years to become sexually mature and have relatively few offspring.
"The traditional view of oceanic sharks and rays as fast and powerful too often leads to a misperception that they are resilient to fishing pressure," says Sonja Fordham, Deputy Chair of the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group (SSG). "Despite mounting evidence of decline and increasing threats to these species, there are no international catch limits for oceanic sharks. Our research shows that action is urgently needed on a global level if these fisheries are to be sustainable."
Visit the IUCN's website to see the complete chart of "Red Listed" species.
IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature - is the world's
oldest and largest global environmental network. They help the world find
pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges
by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the
world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions
companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.
Read more about sharks and ocean conservation programs:
World Wildlife Fund - "To most people, the marine environment is out of sight and out of mind, so its demise is hidden," states the UK's World Wildlife Fund report: The Marine Health Check. "But visible clues are therefor all to see....strandings of porpoises are on the increase and failing fish stocks are being recorded. And it's not just marine life that's suffering - coastal towns and villages in many parts of the UK that once thrived on the riches of the seas have become hollow shells of the vibrant communities they once were and ought to be."
TopKayaker.Net's: Encountering Predators While Kayaking - Simple common sense tips for overcoming fears.
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