At the end of 1999 they appealed for anglers to join a shark tagging program to be known as 2000 UK Shark Tagging Programme. Now, as we enter 2001, the preliminary results of the first years tagging have become known.
A staggering 1000 sharks of various species have been tagged.

The 1000th tag was attached to a 45lb Blue shark caught off the South Wales coast by angler James Tims from Wedmore, Somerset fishing out of Milford Haven from the boat Sabre Tooth, skippered by Steven Hambridge. The 1000th tag was sponsored by the Relum tackle company.

The tagging program has been sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, the Angling Trades Association, European Federation of Sea Anglers, South West Federation of Sea Anglers, Sea Angler, Angling Times, Relum Tackle, The Sportfishing Club of GB and the Pike Anglers Club of GB.

Numbers of anglers have registered as taggers and have been issued with Tagging Kits consisting of numbered plastic tags and a canula to insert the tags into the Sharks muscular tissue - adjacent to the dorsal fin where it will not harm or interfere with the sharks lifestyle.

Many of the taggers joined in March and April, even more taggers joining along the migration route as the Tope moved around the coast. As yet not enough information is available to plot this coastal migration but as more data become available the true picture will begin to emerge.

Already questions are being posed as a result of the initial findings, such things as the lack of male fish. Parasites are being found on some fish so now parasites are being collected for scientific investigation, markings are being noted on the tagging card. Some fish are being caught with damaged lower jaws indicative of being cut away from long lines, etc.

The Blue Sharks that I fish for in the Western Approaches were conspicuous by their absence in 2000. The Plymouth and Looe boats put in considerable effort to find the Blues, but they were not there till late in the season and then only for a few weeks. We are almost certain that this was entirely due to the horrendous weather that we endured last season. Hopefully 2001 will be different and allow us to get out and do our share of the tagging.

Sue and Jerri Drake deserve a lot of praise for the sheer effort that they have put in to this project. I will keep this column updated with progress as the new season goes on.

Happy New Year to all.

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