This month saw the biggest ever rod and line fish caught from the British shoreline, although it will not show up in the record books. Angler Daniel Bennett, aged 26 and from Whitby, caught a skate on the Isle of Sky which was estimated to weigh 208lbs. While this would have been a new British record to archaic and destructive rules of the official British Record Fish Committee mean that the fish would have to be weighed which, with a fish this size, would have almost certainly killing it. Huge credit must therefore go to Mr. Bennett for instead releasing the critically endangered skate. The 208lb weight was calculated from the measurements of the skate. While he could not claim a record Mr. Bennett was instead eligible for a place on the Notable Fish List, which is intended to highlight important catches which have not been eligible for the official record list. See pictures of the skate by clicking here.
Some horrible news emerged with the discovery of the carcasses of around sixty smooth-hounds on the Isle of Wight. The fish appear to have been caught by an illegal or unlicensed trawler as they had been chopped up in such as way that the edible meat had been removed and the rest of the shark thrown away. There were fears that the flesh could end up in local fish and chip shops where it could be passed off as another species. Read more about this here. More bad news about smooth-hounds was also reported later in July when over fifty were discovered washed up dead on the Gower coast in Wales. Unlike the smooth-hounds found at the Isle of Wight these had not been chopped up, leading to the belief that they were simply caught by a trawler and then thrown overboard as discards. Read more here. It is especially sad to see such a pointless waste of this fish when anglers now almost always fish for smooth-hounds on a catch and release basis in order to protect stocks and ensure this hard-fighting member of the shark species is around for future generations to enjoy catching (and releasing).
However, there was some good news for sharks this month when the British government announced that they would fight for protection for shark species in the Atlantic. Currently there are no limits or quotas on sharks in the Atlantic and EU vessels kill millions of sharks every year, pushing some species such as porbeagle shark to the edge of extinction in the Atlantic. UK Fishing Minister George Eustace announced that as part of the Shark Trust’s No Limits, No Future campaign he would fight for catch limits and quotas to help protect the shark numbers and stocks.