February 2016 – News

Shore Caught Cod Record: The largest ever shore caught cod was landed this month in Norway by a British angler. Tom Ascott from Dorset was on a guided fishing holiday in Norway when he hooked the cod. When weighted on certified scales the cod came in at 66lb 8oz, breaking the previous shore caught record by over 20lb. The boat caught record, a cod weighing 103lb, was also caught in Norwegian waters in 2013. Read more and see pictures of the cod here.

Bass Battle: The battle over bass stocks shows no signs of abating. Anglers have been outraged by bass being a catch and release only species for the first six months of 2016 (and being limited to retaining one fish a day for the rest of the year) while the highly damaging commercial gill net fishery has had its quota increased. Now politicians are getting involved on the side of anglers to try and get a fairer outcome. Scott Mann the Member of Parliament for North Cornwall – who is a keen angler himself – secured a three hour backbench debate in the House of Commons on UK bass stocks. Mr. Mann stated:

“The current situation we find ourselves in is grossly unfair on anglers. Both fishermen and anglers want to see bass stocks preserved and grown, but one party shouldn’t have to suffer when they actually have very little impact on stocks. We need to have a different approach to this, and I hope my debate will highlight to the government why change is needed.”

He went on to say that he had received a large amount of correspondence from anglers around the country showing their support. Getting MPs such as Mr. Mann onside will be welcomed by anglers who see the recently imposed rules as unfair and want them changed. Read more about Mr. Mann’s comments here.

Tiger Shark Controversy: Three anglers in Australia cause outrage by catching and killing a 1370lb endangered tiger shark this month. The men were fishing in a boat off the south east coast of the country when the caught the shark. The controversy arose when the men uploaded pictures of themselves posing with the dead shark on social media. Many people commented to criticise the men, pointing out that tiger sharks are endangered and likened the killing of the shark to hunting other endangered species such as Bengal tigers. Others drew comparisons to the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American hunter in summer 2015 – an incident which caused worldwide controversy. However, the men did receive some support with a minority of people commenting to say that the death of the shark would make the area safer for surfers. The potential record status of the catch is stated as “pending.” See pictures and read the Independent’s article on this story by clicking here.

Shark Finning: Horrible pictures emerge from Taiwan showing dozens of immature blue sharks killed for their fins. Around sixty sharks – which measured between 11 and 27 inches and all had their fins removed – were found dumped at the base of a bridge in the north west of the country. It is believed that the sharks were killed to supply the booming demand for shark fin soup, a dish seen as a delicacy in many parts of Asia. The Taiwanese Coast Guard and Fisheries Agency said that they were determined to catch and punish the people responsible for killing the sharks. Read more here.

Illegal Eel Trade: The Guardian ran an interesting story this month looking at the decline of the silver eel (also known as the European eel). This species was abundant around most of Europe, but its numbers have plummeted in the last fifty years, meaning it is now classed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The Guardian reported that the European Union had placed restrictions on exporting this species, but increasing demand for eels from China had made the illegal trade of this species increasingly lucrative – eels can be worth as much as $1500 (£1055) per kilo once it arrives in Asia. Overfishing, dams and sluices blocking migration routes and climate change have all contributed to the decline in eel numbers and anglers and conservationists alike will be concerned to hear that huge amounts of eels are being illegally taken on top of this. Read the article here.

North Sea Discards: With the discard ban being phased in over the coming years the wastage of perfectly good, edible fish was highlighted this month. The Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead revealed that the amount of fish discarded in the North Sea alone would have fed two million people, enough to meet the entire demand for fish in a European nation such as Slovenia. Despite constant complaints from the commercial fishing industry the discard ban will be fully in place by 2019. Read more about Richard Lochhead’s comments here.

Shark Virgin Birth: Finally, a shark at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre displayed an extremely rare natural phenomenon of parthenogenesis (virgin birth) when it produced two healthy eggs, despite being the only member of its species in the centre, and having had no contact with males for over two years. Parthenogenesis involves offspring developing from an unfertilised egg and remains poorly understood by science. Indeed, it was only discovered that sharks could reproduce in this way in 2008. The eggs are due to hatch by the end of 2016. Read more here.