Fish group presents rare shark to maritime museum –

Fish group presents rare shark to maritime museum Published:  03 August, 2010

THE Marine Management Organisation (MMO) the fishing watchdog for England and Wales has presented the Natural History Museum in Plymouth with a rare angel shark.The MMO officers discovered the shark while inspecting sales on Plymouth Fish Market.

The shark was mistakenly being sold as a more common fish, but officers recognised it as a protected species. In April 2008 the angel shark was given full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1984 and is listed as “critically endangered”.

The MMO contacted the Natural History Museum to ensure such a rare species in English waters could be documented, and Oliver Crimmen, Senior Fish Curator at the museum, collected the rare find.

Mr Crimmen said “We’ll take a tissue sample, look at its DNA and then preserve the whole body in alcohol to go into the national collection for future scientific study, hopefully for hundreds of years.”

District Marine Officer, Julian Roberts, said “It is important that experts get access to these specimens so they can be properly documented.”He added “We are always concerned when a protected species is landed, and have contacted the fisherman – who it is believed accidentally landed the shark as by-catch – to make him aware of the restrictions.”

Angel sharks used to be a common sight in the seas around Britain, their numbers have dwindled dramatically. They are also threatened globally because they are intensively fished for their liver oil.

Fish expert Douglas Henderson said: “By the 1990s the situation had changed and they became exceeding rare. Since 1998 only 2 or 3 specimens have been seen on Plymouth fish market.’