AIM OF THE ANGEL SHARK PROJECT: WALES

Safeguarding one of the world’s rarest sharks through fisher-participation, heritage and citizen-science.

 

AIM OF THE ANGEL SHARK PROJECT: WALES

Safeguarding one of the world’s rarest sharks through fisher-participation, heritage and citizen-science.

 

AIM OF THE ANGEL SHARK PROJECT: WALES

Safeguarding one of the world’s rarest sharks through fisher-participation, heritage and citizen-science.

IMPORTANCE OF WALES FOR ANGELSHARKS

The Critically Endangered Angelshark, once common across the western British Isles, is a rare species of shark that glides across the seabed with elongated fins.
After suffering widespread decline across its range over the last century, there have been an increasing number of sightings of this rare species along the Welsh coast in recent years, giving hope for it’s future.

WHAT ARE ANGELSHARKS

Angelsharks (Squatina squatina) are large, flat-bodied sharks that can reach 2.4m in length belonging to the angel shark family (Squatinidae), which rank as the second most threatened family of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) in the world. Angelsharks are normally found submerged in sandy habitats in coastal waters.

In Wales, Angelsharks are also known as monkfish or angel fish, and they are sometimes mistaken for a ray or mis-recorded as Anglerfish.

Check out at www.angelsharknetwork.com to understand major threats and conservation projects for the angel shark family across their range.

WALES ANGELSHARK ACTION PLAN

A strong network of NGOs, Government Agencies and Universities have worked together to build the Wales Angelshark Action Plan, providing a unique opportunity to better understand and safeguard this species in Welsh waters. 

This Action Plan provides a priority list of Actions to be delivered over the next five years and by working together to deliver this Action Plan, we can move towards our Vision: a thriving population of Angelsharks in Wales. 

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Follow guidelines

It is illegal to target Angelsharks, but if you accidentally catch one when fishing follow our best practice guide to release it in a good condition.

Divers and snorkellers who are fortunate enough to encounter an Angelshark in the water, should at all times follow the Angelshark Code of Conduct 

Report Sightings

Information from you will help us to better understand the ecology of Angelsharks in the waters around Wales. We encourage anyone with historic, current and future records of Angelsharks in Wales to report their data.

Sightings can be uploaded directly to the Angel Shark sightings map

Volunteer

We have a number of opportunities to join the project as a volunteer citizen scientist!

  • SHARE your Angelshark stories, memories or photos
  • VOLUNTEER as a historical researcher

Social media

Keep an eye out on our social media pages for upcoming events and opportunities to learn more about Angelsharks in Welsh waters. 

HOW ARE ANGELSHARKS PROTECTED IN WALES

  • It is illegal to intentionally disturb, target, injure or kill Angelsharks within 12 nautical miles of Welsh and English coastlines (Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981)
  • For commercial fishers, it is illegal to target, retain, tranship or land Angelsharks for all EU and third country vessels in EU waters. All discards >50 kg must be logged. (Council Regulation (EU) No. 2017/127)

THREE MAJOR PROJECT AREAS

FISHER ENGAGEMENT

Fishers in Wales are stewards of Angelshark conservation, providing vital data on current and historic encounters of this species. Targeted fishing of Angelsharks is illegal, but some are still accidentally encountered as bycatch and these records are vital.  

In collaboration with fishers, we developed the best practice guidance to safely release Angelsharks if accidentally caught. It has information on how to handle and reduce impact on Angelsharks that are accidentally caught and where to report the capture. 

We work closely with fishers across Wales through informal meetingsattending association events and via social media. Data shared will improve the understanding of the population of Angelsharks in Welsh waters and in turn contribute to safeguarding the species. 

HISTORY OF ANGELS

Angelsharks are still rare in Wales, so we need your help to discover the story of this shark and its Welsh connection! You can help the project by sharing your Angelshark stories, memories or photos with the team. 

Download the Angels of Wales eBook – an interactive book designed for school children aged 7 to 11 to find out more about the history of Angelsharks and maritime heritage off the Welsh coast. 

We will be sharing the Angels of Wales eBook with schools and museums across Wales in 2021  get in contact [email protected] if you would like your school to be involved.

ENVIRONMENTAL DNA

Angelsharks are a cryptic species, which can make locating them extremely difficult, especially in deep or murky waters. As angelsharks interact with their environment, they naturally shed DNA into the surrounding waters.  

As this DNA persists for a period of time in the water, we can sample these waters at various coastal locations to collect, sequence and identify this DNA to find out if angelsharks remain in these waters year-round – without having to physically see or catch these sharks.  

ANGEL SHARK PROJECT: WALES TEAM

Project Lead

Joanna Barker

Technical Advisor

Ben Wray

Project Coordinator

Jake Davies

Project Assistant

Charlie Endsor

ANGEL SHARK PROJECT: WALES STEERING GROUP MEMBERS

  • Men’s Sheds Wales
  • National Waterfront Museum
  • Natural Resources Wales (NRW)
  • North Wales Wildlife Trust
  • On The Edge Conservation
  • People’s Collection Wales
  • Shark Trust
  • Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Welsh Federation of Sea Anglers
  • Welsh Government
  • Welsh Fishermen’s Association
  • Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig
  • Zoological Society London (ZSL)

This project is supported by On The Edge Conservation and Welsh Government

CONTACT US



    Photos used on this webpage c. Michael Sealey and Visit Wales