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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 July 2006, 08:18 GMT 09:18 UK
Protection for threatened sharks
A shark being tagged (Sussex Sea Fisheries District Committee)
The eastern English Channel is important for shark and ray
Sharks in the English Channel are to be protected under proposed fisheries management measures.

The Sussex and Eastern Solent coast is said to be nationally important for shark and ray, with "some of the UK's most impressive predatory fish".

But local fishermen have seen a decline in catches and the Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee has set out to boost stock.

Plans include fishing restrictions and prohibition of removal. All sharks in the area are harmless to people.

Other options in the consultation document include closed periods, and rules on minimum and maximum sizes of fish.

Top predators

Prohibition on removal of specific species would apply to both commercial and recreational anglers under the plans.

Marine biologist David Harvey said: "Many species once regarded abundant are now seriously depleted or absent."

He said many species were susceptible to over-fishing because they grew slowly, matured late and produced few young.

But he said the top predators were "very important in maintaining marine ecosystems".

Consultation documents can be viewed on the committee's website.

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