Caution urged to protect Basking Sharks

Shark Trust launches new Code of Conduct

The large-eyed rabbitfish, the velvet-bellied dogfish, and the little sleeper shark - off Europe's beaches! © Brian J. Skerry/ National Geographic Image Collection

Basking Sharks are the UK’s largest shark species. Long lived, slow growing and producing only a few offspring, Basking Sharks are very susceptible to exploitation.

Historically overfished, their population has collapsed and this shark is now listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN’s Red List of Endangered Species.  

Despite protection under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), CMS (the Convention on Migratory Species) and Wildlife and Countryside Act, Basking Sharks continue to be negatively affected by the actions of man. 

Coastal waters are used and enjoyed by many different groups and the incredibly high number of commercial and recreational ventures means that Basking Sharks cannot fail to be affected by them.

The negative impacts of boat strike, fisheries and bycatch can range from the extreme to those which have only a limited effect on the shark. These impacts are rarely recorded; however, anecdotal evidence suggests it to be a serious issue affecting many sharks. 

Basking Sharks can be affected by:

  • Rope entanglement
  • Net entanglement
  • Propellers/collisions
  • Harassment 

The Shark Trust has issued a new Code of Conduct for recreational water users to provide guidelines for safe interaction with Basking Sharks, enabling people to view these magnificent creatures without causing disturbance.   

How you can help

The Shark Trust, in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society and the Wildlife Trusts, is requesting boat operators and members of the public report instances of damaged or dead shark in order to better understand this problem. 

Use the Photo-Id Submission Form to submit photographs or records of Basking Sharks negatively affected by man's actions. 

If you come across a stranded Basking Shark please call the UK Cetaceans Strandings Project on 0207 449 6672. 

Protection under Section 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act means that it is illegal to kill, injure or recklessley disturb Basking Sharks in British waters punishable by up to six months in prison.

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