Shark By-Watch UK is a project led by Cefas, funded by the European Fisheries Fund (EFF)* and a range of other partner organisations across the UK**. Now in its second phase, the project aims to improve knowledge of shark, skate and ray by-catch and dead-discarding in a number of different fisheries with a view to improving fishing and handling practices to support more sustainable shark, skate and ray fisheries. Data and knowledge collected by the project will be fed into reforms of the CFP - particularly the landing obligation - which will affect UK fishers' day-to-day activities.

A central pillar of all of Shark By-Watch UK's work is the training provided to fishers that enables them to carry out their own research activities, and become custodians of their own data. In its first phase, the project used this 'bottom-up' approach to examine the status of the thornback ray in the Thames Estuary and looked at 'lost and forgotten' shark fisheries off the East Anglian coast.

In its new phase, the Shark By-Watch UK 2 team are applying the same fisher-led research principles to a fresh set of challenges around shark, skate and ray populations and fisheries in UK waters. Shark By-Watch UK 2 will centre around three work packages:

 

Shark By-Watch UK 2 work packages:

  • Understanding discard survival of commercially important elasmobranchs of conservation interest for input into Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform.

  • The use of innovative solutions for reducing by-catch and dead discards of threatened sharks, skates and rays.

  • Evaluate fisheries management strategies to achieve a sustainable thornback ray fishery in the Thames Estuary, free of regulatory discards, in line with the aims of CFP reform.

Work undertaken will include participatory workshops, unique events centred around the dissection of bycaught species, field work at sea, tagging, sampling and much more. Throughout, the Shark By-Watch team will be working closely with the fishers themselves, using their knowledge and understanding, as well as their fishing gear and vessels, as a scientific platforms to collect much needed data on sharks, skates and rays.

 

To find out more about the Shark By-Watch UK 2 team, visit the 'Meet the Team' page.

If you have any questions about the project, please contact Stuart Hetherington on: stuart.hetherington@cefas.co.uk

 

* European Fisheries Fund (EFF), is committed to promoting the long-term future of Englands fishing industry, by helping fishermen to become more sustainable yet remain profitable.

** Funders include: Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs), Eastern IFCA, Kent & Essex IFCA, Devon & Severn IFCA, Isles of Scilly IFCA, Scottish National Heritage, Isle of Man Fisheries Directorate, and Morrisons Plc.