Changes introduced by the Scottish Government mean vulnerable species of sharks, skates and rays now have greater protection, over and above EU legislation.
The Scottish Government is the first in Europe to introduce legislation protecting such a wide range of species. The Sharks Skates and Rays (Prohibition of Fishing) Order came into force today and covers 26 species – including angel sharks, tope sharks, common skate and undulate rays.
The legislation extends current protection measures with a landing ban for recreational anglers, as well as prohibiting commercial fishermen from catching vulnerable tope.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
“Sharks, skates and rays form an important part of Scotland’s rich marine biodiversity. Some of these species are critically endangered and this legislation will mean that we have gone above and beyond EU legislation to offer greater levels of protection.
“With a landing ban across both commercial and recreational fisheries, we can help support stock recovery for vulnerable shark, skate and ray species. This legislation builds on Scotland’s leading protection measures for sharks – including our proactive decision in 2009 to strengthen the ban on barbaric shark finning.
“Recreational anglers will still be permitted to fish using the ‘catch and release’ method, while the tagging programmes undertaken by anglers can continue. This important initiative is providing invaluable data about sharks in Scottish waters and will help inform policies about how best we can protect these stocks in the future.”
Mike Park, Chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, added:
“It is right that we take all steps possible to protect vulnerable species and groups of species. Bringing recreational sea angling into line with restrictions currently imposed on commercial fishers makes a great deal of sense.”