Fishermen urged to try hunting Yorkshire sharks – ANGLERS are being urged to try shark fishing off Flamborough Head, amid predictions it could become the “tope Mecca of the country.”
Tope sharks – also known as soupfin sharks – congregate south of the Head, and writers from a national angling magazine were impressed by what they saw when they came fishing.
This month’s Total Sea-fishing magazine enthuses about the amount and size of the fish – considered the biggest and most-prized sportsfish in UK waters – and warns anglers to book a boat early for next season or face disappointment.
Yorkshire Forward and the North Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee has been encouraging recreational angling for tope. But none of the fish will be landed – and there’s no chance of it ending up as sharkfin soup.
In Lowestoft there was controversy over plans to hunt and slaughter 300 tope a week for sale abroad to customers in Sri Lanka and the Far East.
While it is not illegal to catch tope sharks, the species – like all large sharks – is particularly vulnerable to over-fishing.
Giles Bartlett, of the NESFC, said: “It is well recognised that tope are vulnerable to over exploitation particularly from commercial fisheries.
“Therefore we are encouraging the development of recreational fishery whereby all fish have to be returned.”
A by-law will come into force later this year subject to consultation which prevents the “removal of tope or parts thereof.”
Darren Taylor, the magazine’s deputy editor, said: “The story should – if the skippers follow suit – bring a lot of business to Bridlington. It’s up to them now as I believe the anglers will want a piece of this phenomenal fishing.”
Tope sharks can live for 55 years and are considered harmless to humans. Male tope are not fully-grown until they reach somewhere between 12 and 17-years-old and female tope are not sexually mature until they reach 13 to 15-years-old.
Even then they only produce between 6 and 52 pups a year, many of which will not survive to adulthood, leading to them to be listed as “vulnerable” by the World Conservation Union.
The current British record weight for a tope is 82lb 8oz.