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Protection for Tope Announced

Mar 13,2008 SACN

Managing the exploitation of tope

Jonathan Shaw, Minister for Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs & Minister for the South East, has taken steps to protect tope, a vulnerable European continental-shelf and coastal shark species. The Minister has prohibited fishing for tope other than by rod and line and has set a 45kg per day tope by-catch limit in commercial fisheries targeting other species.

Tope do not mature until they are around 12 years old and then produce a relatively low number of pups compared with other marine species (20 every 2-3 years), making them very vulnerable to fishing pressure.  Following reports of plans for a commercial tope fishing operation, Defra consulted on precautionary conservation measures. The majority of responses supported the prevention of directed fisheries or pointed out that tope were a low value but inevitable by-catch in commercial fisheries for other species.

Even though a targeted commercial fishery has not emerged, we believe there is a risk that a targeted fishery for tope could be set up quickly and could have a rapid adverse impact on populations both locally and throughout the North East Atlantic.   The Minister has decided that to ensure the sustainable use of tope, fishing for tope by methods other than rod and line will be prohibited and where tope is a by-catch in commercial fisheries targeting other species a 45kg per day tope by-catch limit will apply.  Rod and line anglers fishing from boats will not be allowed to land their catches (dead or alive) ashore, however, they will be allowed to continue to practice ‘catch and release’. Both commercial and recreational fishermen will share the responsibility for the conservation of tope.

The Statutory Instrument which implements these measures has been published on the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website:




The new rules will apply from 6th April 2008

In a letter to SACN, Jonathan Shaw the Fisheries Minister, promises to push for similar measures to be rolled out throughout the EU.

Tope - A Code of Best Practice for Anglers

News Reports:  


Eastern Daily Press


Measures introduced to Wales on 1st July 2008



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» No Change on Tope for Kent & Essex
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» Save Our Sharks Appeals for Help
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