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1st Stage: Conwy 18th & 19th May, £2000 1st place privateers prize

Shark Welfare taken seriously by BoatLife Fishing

a tope shark in the water

The observant among you will have noticed a very clear rule for the BoatLife Fishing Championship when it comes to the measuring of tope. 

Tope, a popular recreational shark species reaching weights of up to 80lb (36 kilos), can have problems supporting their own weight out of the water, causing considerable strain on their internal organs. Whilst many such fish will be observed swimming away, the trauma can result in post release mortality in the following hours or days.  

Whilst smaller tope can be supported with good handling techniques, as demonstrated in the infographics produced by the Shark Trust, larger tope are put at increased risk by their greater body weight. These larger fish are often females, which can also be carrying pups presenting an increased risk when removing them from the water, including miscarriages. Given tope, like many other shark species, have a low fecundity and long gestation period, such losses can have a real impact on the long term sustainability of the species. 

With all of this in mind, the BoatLife Fishing Championship has made provisions for the measuring of tope exceeding 120cm to be done at the side of the boat. This rule will also apply across the privateers cup. 

The BoatLife Fishing Championship is not just another angling competition. The intention, with leading factory teams competing from major brands, is to be a showcase of innovation, development and sustainable measures our sport can take forward. Whether that is highlighting the latest in safety equipment, such as the Mustang Survival Atlas range of lifejackets, demonstrating how to descend fish to aid in barotrauma recovery using devices such as the Seaqualiser, or continuously improving handling techniques of all fish species, BoatLife Fishing will strive to be a the forefront of driving these practices throughout our sport. The legacy will be seen in other competitions and pleasure angling following suit. 

Further rules to protect shark species, as well as other fish, are also in place, including the requirement to crush barbs on circle hooks exceeding size 6/0, whilst the measure, photo and release system is as streamlined as possible, leveraging the fantastic Angling Live app, ensuring every fish is returned to the water as quickly as possible and cared for whilst aboard.

Hannah Rudd from Shark Hub UK says: “Many recreational anglers and skippers are already implementing best-practice handling, so it’s fantastic to see an angling competition as high-profile as BoatLife being proactive in promoting best-practice by including it within its competition rules. With simple changes, we can all make a huge difference to the fish we all care about as anglers, in turn, securing a sustainable future for the sport and our seas.”

Jack Renwick, Conservation Officer at The Shark Trust, adds: “The Shark Trust firmly believes that all handling of sharks should be carried out to a high standard to ensure the best chance of post release survival for these easily damaged animals. Sharks have no internal skeleton, so they are susceptible to internal organ damage when being lifted or moved. Keeping them in the water reduces the severity of stress and damage to the individual, so we are pleased to see this introduced as a rule for this angling competition.”

Shark handling guidelines from The Shark Trust can be found here. 

A tope shark in the water below a charter fishing boat
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1st Stage: Conwy 18th & 19th May, £2000 1st place privateers prize