Northern England Project
Supporting sustainability in Northern English shark and ray fisheries
The Shark Trust, with funding from the Co-operative, is co-ordinating a project in Northern England, promoting sustainability in elasmobranch (shark, skate and ray) fisheries. Focusing on ports in Yorkshire, Humberside, Lancashire and Cumbria, the Trust will work with a range of sectors within the commercial fishing industry towards a better understanding of the fisheries in which Northern English vessels operate.
Why are healthy shark populations important?
A growing body of research from around the world indicates that when elasmobranchs are overfished in an area, prey populations can explode in size with a significant, often irreversible ‘snow-ball’ effect throughout the wider marine ecosystem. As top predators, many elasmobranchs play a pivotal role in maintaining a balanced marine environment – in turn supporting productive fisheries for other species such as teleost fish, Nephrops and shellfish.
Why focus on Northern England?
The Irish and North Seas’ support rich marine ecosystems and fisheries. They are also home to significant commercial fishing fleets operating in near-shore and offshore waters. Elasmobranchs have played an important role in Northern England’s fishing heritage although, as in other regions of the UK, identification and recording has often been of less importance compared to bony fish.
How significant are elasmobranch fisheries for the Northern English fleet?
In recent decades, landings have reduced considerably in volume for both the under-10m and over-10m fleets, with elasmobranchs now taken largely as bycatch. Nevertheless they can still represent a valuable component within mixed fisheries. This project will work towards ensuring that this remains the case, with fishermen able to profit from well-managed sustainable elasmobranch fisheries.