Tope fishing boom forecast
after success with shellfish
BRIDLINGTON is being urged to take a bite out of a largely untapped fishery and become a Mecca for shark anglers after industry leaders declared it the prime location for one of the world’s most prized sportsfish.
The port – struggling since the decline in whitefish stocks in the North Sea – may experience a new boom as a haven for recreational anglers, and local boat owners are being advised to consider further diversification.
Already Bridlington has established itself as Britain’s largest shellfish port, but the shark fishery has rarely been considered.
Fishing fans wanting to take advantage of the excellent stocks off Bridlington have even been encouraged to book early to avoid disappointment.
It comes after a national fishing magazine urged anglers to visit the town to catch tope sharks – regarded as the biggest and most-prized sportsfish in UK waters.
Writers from Total Sea Fishing magazine made the trip and found what they call the “best tope fishing in the country”. The article enthuses about the amount and size of the tope sharks, which congregate south of Flamborough Head, and warns anglers to book a boat early for next season or face disappointment.
Dave Brown took the magazine party out on his catamaran Lizzard, which he charters off Bridlington’s South Beach. He said: “I’ve been tope fishing here for years and it really is as good as the magazine makes out.
“As far as I know there are only two vessels available for charter for tope fishing in Bridlington; it certainly isn’t being fished to its potential. The article will certainly increase the profile of fishing in the area. I’ve already had plenty of calls from people outside the area wanting to come and tope fish.”
The trip was part of a proposal by the North Eastern Sea Fisheries Committee, supported by Total Sea Fishing, to protect the tope population.
Magazine deputy editor Darren Taylor said: “Tope are purely a sport fish and every shark is carefully measured, tagged and then released, meaning if it is caught again we will be informed of where, when and its new dimensions
“I can envisage lots of anglers descending on Bridlington next year and a lot of them will be disappointed if they can’t book a boat. Bridlington could become the tope Mecca of the country.”
A by-law will come into force later this year, subject to consultation, to make tope fishing recreational, which will mean tope can only be caught for sport before being thrown back to sea.
Although there is little market for the flesh in Britain, the “finning” of sharks is a common practice whereby the fish are hauled aboard, have their fins cut off and are then thrown back into the sea. There they are unable to control their movements and die a slow death.
The fins are shipped to the Far East, where sharkfin soup is a prized delicacy.
Total Sea Fishing promises more good news for fishing at Bridlington next month. Its writers will go fishing for bass and freelining for pollack a few yards off the shore.
A fully-grown tope shark will measure between 5ft 8in and 6ft 3in long. The current British record weight is 82lb 8oz. They can live for 55 years and are considered harmless to humans.