(Above photo) porbeagle shark © Chesil Beach Watch
Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) was saddened to see a critically endangered porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) landed on Chesil Beach last weekend by a local fisherman. The 2 metre shark, a mature female, was accidently caught in a trammel net 300 yards off Chesil Cove.
Marc Smith, DWT Chesil Beach Centre Manager said “This was an unfortunate incident. The fisherman was clearly not targeting the animal, given the location of the nets. But porbeagles are breeding at this time of year, ready to give birth in the spring, so it is a shame to see this reproductive female removed from the population.”
Not a danger to humans
Porbeagle sharks are mackerel sharks, related to the mako and white shark. They typically grow to around 3m but despite their appearance and size, they are not considered a danger to humans as their main interest is fish.
They are extremely vulnerable to overfishing
Like most sharks they are long-lived, slow growing, mature late and produce few young, making them extremely vulnerable to overfishing. Since 2010, commercial fishermen within the EU have been prohibited from targeting and landing porbeagles. When accidently caught, they must be returned to the sea, unharmed if possible.
Regular reports about porbeagles around the Dorset coast
Marc Smith added “I am not surprised that this shark has been caught just off Chesil Beach. We get regular reports from fishermen about porbeagles around the Dorset coast. Basking sharks, blue sharks and porbeagles have all been seen close by. We also get dolphins just off the beach, following the fish. All of which are susceptible to nets.”
Lyme Bay included in list of special areas for protection
The Wildlife Trusts are currently proposing that 17 special areas around England and Wales should become protected areas for dolphins, whales and sharks to safeguard these species (some of which are in decline) against damaging activities. This includes Lyme Bay in Dorset, which is a hot spot for white-beaked dolphins, bottlenose dolphin, the common dolphin and the basking shark, to name just a few.
Find out more about the Ocean Giants campaign here.
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Follow us on Twitter @dorsetwildlife and facebook.com/dorsetwildlife
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.