A basking shark was recently landed into Howth, Co Dublin after being incidentally caught alive in a prawn trawler. The skipper had hoped to sell it for 10 euro per kilo and had arranged a fish monger to cut up and distribute the shark.
Unfortunately for this fisher he did not realize that it is illegal under the Common Fishery Policy to sell basking shark meat and products even if caught incidentally. The UK Shark Trust informed the Irish Sea Fisheries Protection Agency who informed the fish monger of the legal situation and blocked the sale.
Basking shark populations are thought to be still severely depleted after centuries of exploitation. There is a huge market for shark fin soup and a small market for basking shark oil and the Norwegians were still involved in a targeted fishery for this species up to 2006 when the EU banned directed fisheries and since 2007 also banned the sale of by-catch as well.
We would like to thank our colleagues at the UK Shark Trust for responding so quickly to this event and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority for enforcing the legal status of this shark so swiftly. We hope this event will further raise awareness of the status of and threats to the basking shark in Ireland.