NEELJE JANS, NETHERLANDS - Today, anglers, conservationists and politicians attended a special shark tag and release trip on the Oosterschelde. During the tour, organised by the Dutch Anglers Association, smooth hound shark were caught with the aim to tag the animals and then release them again into the sea.
"It's great that anglers are committed to the sharks" said Monique van de Water North Sea Foundation, one of the co-organizers. "The enthusiasm for this event shows that the Dutch are very concerned with the plight of sharks."
The Dutch North Sea was originally home to 10 species of shark and 12 species of ray. Continued fishing pressure has ensured that the populations of all these species were decimated and some even went locally extinct. In recent years, the number of spotted smooth hound has increased in the Dutch delta which has made it a popular target species with anglers.
"Our goals are twofold" said Niels Brevé of Sportvisserij Netherlands. "Firstly, we want to introduce these new species to Dutch anglers. Secondly we want to draw attention to these vulnerable animals to better protect them against overfishing. "
During the event, participants were also asked to Make the Push for all of Europe. In March this year, the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers adopted a position in favour of a proposal to strengthen the EU finning ban by requiring that all sharks be landed with their ‘fins naturally attached’. The European Parliament must also support the proposal for it to be implemented. The European Parliament Fisheries Committee will vote on the issue in September before it is submitted to a vote in plenary in October. Participants in Shark-a-Tag, which include Esther de Lange (MEP CDA) and Lutz Jacobi (MP PvdA), called on MEPs to ensure all sharks caught in EU waters or landed by EU fisherman have their fins naturally attached.
"It’s great that all political representatives present gave their support without hesitation " says Irene Kingma of Shark Alliance. "This sends a strong signal to Brussels and we hope that all MEPs follow this example and support fins naturally attached with no exceptions."