The Government has published proposals to stop new fisheries targeting tope.

 

DEFRA is proposing pre-emptive measures after receiving reports last year that a commercial fishing operation to catch the sharks was being considered.

 

The fishery never materialised, but the Department remains concerned that any future proposals for targeting tope would be unsustainable because of the shark’s life-cycle.

 

The Department is now asking the public, industry, sea anglers, and conservationists whether they think it should implement precautionary protection measures.

 

Marine and Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw said: “There isn’t a targeted fishery for tope in our waters at the moment, but it’s important that we decide now how we can ensure tope remain a sustainable resource.

 

“Tope can live for more than 50 years but they don’t mature until around the age of 12. Even then, they produce a relatively low number of pups compared with other marine species, typically 20 every two or three years.

 

“This life-cycle makes them very vulnerable to fishing pressure.”

 

Recreational sea anglers fishing from the shore will not be affected by the proposed measures.

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

The consultation is available at   http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/tope/index.htm

 

The Government’s consultation invites comments on three possible management options:

 

* doing nothing;

* restricting fishing for tope to rod and line and allow the practice of catch and        release;

 * banning fishing for tope by all methods.

 

The consultation also asks for information about the costs and benefits of these options to commercial fishing operations and recreational sea anglers and associated businesses. These will help the Government assess the impact of the proposals.

 

The closing date for comments is 20th October.

 

Comments should be sent to: tope@defra.gsi.gov.uk Or Patrick Cotter, Defra Marine and Fisheries Directorate, Area 7B, 3-8 Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2HH.

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