September 2015 – News

An angler caught an 8ft porbeagle shark off the coast of North East England this month. Mark Turnbull, 37, was targeting the species when fishing off his boat eighteen miles of the coast of Sunderland. The shark was caught close to a wreck in around seventy metres of water. Although the shark was too big to get onto the boat it was brought alongside after a two hour battle and then released. Based on its size the porbeagle would have weighed between 450 and 550lbs. See pictures of the shark here.

Last month we reported that an ultra-rare beluga whale was spotted off the coast of Northern Ireland last month, a turn up for the books as there had only been around seventeen sighted across the whole of the UK and Ireland over the last thirty years. However, this month another two beluga whales were spotted off Warkworth Beach, Northumberland this month. As beluga whales are usually found in freezing arctic waters at least two thousand miles to the north of the British Isles it is unknown why these whales were found off the coast of North East England when the sea temperature is still relatively warm. Read more here.

In yet more news of unusual species being caught in British waters 300lb and 500lb bluefin tuna were caught off the west coast of Wales this month. Angler Mike Steer caught the 300lb tuna while boat fishing and Chris Bett caught the 500lb fish. Both tuna were released after being caught. With some reports stating that shoals of up to five-hundred individual tuna being seen of the coast of Cornwall and Wales in the last few months it has long been speculated that rod and line anglers would catch bluefin tuna in British waters once again. Tuna had been caught by boat anglers fishing out of Scarborough and Whitby in the early 1930s with many triple figure fish – including the all-time British record of a 851lb tuna – being caught. However, since then tuna have not been reported in UK waters in any meaningful numbers. See pictures of the 300lb tuna which was brought onto the boat before being released by clicking here.

The Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority reported this month that a boat angler has been fined for breaking regulations on bass fishing. The Devon and Severn IFCA stated that a small boat was fishing on the River Exe in June of this year and used sandeels as bait to catch ten bass. However, the two men on the boat were fishing approximately 250 metres inside of a bass nursery area, and also retained all of the bass they caught when a three bass per angler per day limit has been in place since March of this year. Additionally one of the bass was under the 36cm minimum length which was in force at the time (since the 1st September 2015 this minimum size limit has been raised to 42cm). For their offences the men accepted a fine of £500, rather than face criminal prosecution. Read more here.

Depressing news emerged this month when the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned that marine populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish had reduced by 50% since the 1970s. The WWF report stated that a combination of commercial overfishing, pollution, destruction of marine habitats and climate change had all contributed to the decline, with many species consumed by humans, such as mackerel, suffering the worst declines. Marco Lambertini, head of the WWF stated “We must take this opportunity to support the ocean and reverse the damage while we still can.” Read The Telegraph’s report on this issue by clicking here.

In a follow up the release of the WWF Callum Roberts, the world renowned scientists who is professor of marine conservation at the University of York wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian. He stated that the decline of the world’s oceans could still be stopped and reversed if whole areas were closed to commercial fishing – including much more of the areas around the British Isles. Read the article here.

After last month’s news that North Sea cod stocks were increasing in number it was announced this month that the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) had removed North Sea cod from its fish to avoid list. While many in the commercial fishing industry claimed this as a sign that cod numbers were now abundant it must be noted that the MSC still believe that North Sea cod should only be eaten occasionally and that fishing pressure on cod in the North Sea needs to continue to reduce. It should also be noted that cod stocks around much of the rest of the UK, such as the West of Scotland, Irish Sea and Celtic Sea are depleted and do not show the same modest increases that North Sea cod have seen. Read the BBC report on this story here.