Join the call for curbs on spurdog fishery before its too late!!!!

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I had a call from John McMaster who has worked extensively to collate data for the Pat Smith Data base. John is working with the Angling Trust and Charter boat skippers to raise awareness of plans to extend the commercial spurdog fishery. Spurdog numbers had increased over recent seasons providing a useful recreational fishery particularly during the winter months. Anglers in North Devon have enjoyed great sport from boats out of Ilfracombe especially during the winter months. The fish have also provided a target for shore anglers since the demise of cod. John has put the case for protecting spurdog below and is asking anglers and charter boat skippers to fight for the spurdog and the need for conservation.

We all want long term viable fish stocks and the boom and bust fishery policy is no use to anyone in the long term.

Earlier this year Defra reopened the UK Spurdog fishery to commercial fishing. Recognizing that the female breeding stock needed to be protected to give the fishery longevity they restricted the slot size to 100cm.

To understand the significance of this you need to know that female Spurdog do not reach sexual maturity until they are around 15 years old and that their pregnancy lasts for up to two years. The younger female Spurdog have smaller pups which have a low survival rate but as the females get older and larger, their pup sizes increase and so does their survival rate.  A 100cm female Spurdog is around 20 years old whereas a 120cm female Spurdog is around 40 years old and her pups have a significantly increased survival rate. 

We were therefore very surprised when we heard recently that Defra are now considering a request from the commercial sector to increase the maximum landing size to 120cm.

The recreational angling community regularly access the smaller shark fishery on a catch and release basis and it represents a revenue stream which our recreational charter skippers and coastal communities rely on.

The situation was discussed at a recent Pat Smith Database trustee meeting where it was agreed unanimously that our smaller sharks (Spurdog, Smoothound, Bull Huss and Tope) need our protection as much as their larger cousins (Blue, Porbeagle, Thresher).

Our sport has a seat at the Fisheries Management table but if we don’t use this opportunity to make our views known we will be sidelined by the other players so as a first step we have decided to send a letter to the Fisheries minister signed jointly by as many charter skippers, angling clubs and angling related organizations as possible.

If you would like to be a signatory and help protect the fishery from future closure, please get in contact with the Pat Smith Database at [email protected]

John McMaster


A room full of memories – Looe Sharking