Small Shark Tagging

40 anglers have been trained as part of this project, finding out more about small sharks such as tope and spurdog through a programme of catch and release. Subject to international threats, little is known about elasmobranches (sharks, rays and skates) in Manx waters.

The Small Shark Tagging (SST) Programme has been running since May 2013, MWT has been working with DEFA to make sure we collect data for Manx waters. Tope and other small elasmobranches (sharks, rays and skates) are considered to be subject to international threats and are therefore protected in many jurisdictions. However little is known about these species in Manx waters. The project aims to work with local anglers to tag small sharks and rays with identification tags or streamers, on a catch and release basis. The data are hoped to provide much needed information on the distribution and numbers of these small shark populations, and their economic importance. This information will provide evidence-based data for the future management of these species and the best ways to protect them.

To date over 40 anglers have been trained with over 285 sharks tagged, including tope, bull huss and spurdog. Our only recapture was a tope caught in the Netherlands in 2017. Our anglers have also recaptured individuals from other programmes including programmes run by Cefas and the Scottish shark tagging programme.

The Scottish Programme shows what can be achieved through these types of citizen science programmes. Through their work they have helped to protect several species of skates, rays and sharks through providing evidence of distribution, abundance and sex. They have tagged over three thousand skates, rays and small sharks since the programme began, with recapture rates for common skate at 35%! In addition they have also increased public awareness highlighting the need for shark protection, the importance of sea anglers conservation efforts, and contributed to shark fisheries management.

Small Shark Tagging training is held every year, free of charge by Manx Wildlife Trust. If you would like to get involved, contact Marine Officer Lara Howe at or (01624) 844432 for more information.

If you would like to learn more about the Isle of Man Shark Tagging Programme you can find our annual reports linked below which share some of our key findings. If you are an experienced angler and would like to take part in the project, please contact Lara Howe (MWT Marine Officer) at

The project is funded by the Isle of Man Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) and was supported by the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP) until 2018 when the programme was concluded.



FilenameFile size
small_shark_tagging_annual_report_2013_-_public_version.pdf621.4 KB
small_shark_tagging_annual_report_2014_-_public_version.pdf576.39 KB
small_shark_tagging_annual_report_2015_-_public_version.pdf611.38 KB
small_shark_tagging_annual_report_2016_-_public_version.pdf620.75 KB
small_shark_tagging_annual_report_2017_-_public_version.pdf616.85 KB
small_shark_tagging_annual_report_2018_-_public_version.pdf617.93 KB