Over 100 sea anglers from all over the UK fish Argyll lochs to tag spurdog…

A record 100+ anglers, fishing from boat, shore and kayaks took part in the third running of the annual two-day Spurdog Tagathon event in the Argyll area of Scotland.

The event is organised by the Scottish Sea Anglers Conservation Network (SSACN) as part of their Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP).

Around 60 anglers fished Loch Etive whilst another 40 fished Loch Sunart. Unfortunately the number of fish tagged was down a little this year as there were many more smaller fish around than in previous years, however, other valuable data was gathered by measuring the length and girth of many spurdog and taking DNA clippings from their tails.

As SSACN’s Project Lead James Thorburn explained “Data relating to size is a valuable part of the project and the clippings taken for DNA will give us an idea of how isolated the spurdog populations are from each other along the west coast of Scotland and maybe further afield.”

Even if the fish aren’t cooperating, there are other aspects of the event as Jamie Soons, the event coordinator at Loch Etive. pointed out ” Our events are also about raising awareness and getting folk thinking about why we are out tagging in the first place; of course with many like-minded people getting together, the social side can be very hectic too.”

Events also have a financial benefit to the local communities. A post event survey revealed around £28,500 was spent locally by the anglers over the Tagathon weekend. As SSACN run three tagging events it is expected that next year they will contribute in excess of £120,000 directly into the local economies.

The commitment anglers have for their sport and for the conservation of fish stocks is really demonstrated by the numbers who are willing to turn up in adverse weather conditions in the middle of November to catch, tag and release fish in an attempt to help safeguard the future of their stocks.

SSACN’s next event, the Skate Tagathon, will take place 8 – 10 April 2011 and be based around the Crinan area.
For more details on SSACN go to www.ssacn.org and for the SSTP go to www.tagsharks.com