Good Fish Guide
Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Longline
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - North East Atlantic
Stock detail - All Areas
Certification - None
Fish type - White round fish
Tope is considered highly vulnerable to over-exploitation because they are slow-growing and long-lived, with a low reproductive capacity. It is illegal to target tope commercially in UK waters. Assessed as Vulnerable globally by IUCN -the World Conservation Union and as Data Deficient in the Northeast Atlantic and populations have decreased by 83% over 20 years. Avoid eating.
Tope can reach an age of 55 years and grow to about 200cm. As with several other sharks, tope has a low population productivity, relatively low fecundity and protracted reproductive cycle, making it highly vulnerable to exploitation. Tope is an aplacentally viviparous shark. Aplacental viviparity is a form of egg development in which the eggs hatch while still inside the uterus but the developing young aren't nourished by a placenta. Aplacental viviparity used to be referred to as ovoviviparity. Gestation or pregnancy lasts approximately one year. Mating occurs in January. The Bristol Channel and southwestern North Sea are considered to be important nursery grounds for the species. It is found at depths down to 500 m. Some have been known to migrate large distances but this is not a feature of the species as a whole, as many stay in local waters.
North East Atlantic
Tope is particularly long-lived and slow to mature with low productivity and thus considered highly vulnerable to fishing pressure. The global population of this species has been significantly reduced by 38% since 1993 and 83% over the past 20 years. Their exploitation rates appear to have been unsustainable since 1997. In the North Sea their exploitation rates appear to be 2 - 4 times more than what is required to be sustained. Tope is assessed as Vulnerable (2015) globally by IUCN - the World Conservation Union. It is a non-pressure or unprotected species, i.e. not subject to quota restriction yet in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean, tope are a bycatch species which are often discarded but they are an important target species in recreational fisheries. ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, landings should be no more than 283 tonnes in each of the years 2016 and 2017. Current landings data are unreliable and more data are required for scientists to determine tope's stock status and how many can be caught for the fishery to be sustainable.
There is no specific management plan for demersal elasmobranchs. Designated a restricted species for all English and Welsh vessels. It is prohibited to fish for tope other than with rod and line. Under EU fisheries restrictions, tope shark must be released if caught on longlines in EU waters of ICES Areas IIa (Norwegian Sea) and IV (North Sea), and EU and international waters of I, V, VI, VII, VIII, XII and XIV. Fishing for tope In Scottish waters, other than by rod and line or hand-line, is prohibited (applies to commercial vessels) - and no tope caught can then be landed. Northeast IFCA require that no person shall remove any tope or any part of a tope's body from a fishery and that they shall be returned immediately to the water when caught. A Code of Best Practice was developed by Save Our Sharks and has been adopted by the National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA). An FAO Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks provides guidance for countries wishing to set up shark fishery management programmes. A higher than EU recommended concentration of mercury in some large predatory species, such as shark, means that in some areas the capture of tope shark has either been restricted, or banned, due to concerns for human health.
Sharks are mainly caught on longlines in directed fisheries. They are also taken as bycatch in longline fisheries for other species and are considered to be highly vulnerable to this fishing method. Longlining is a fishing method that has a possible bycatch of other non-target species, such as sea turtles, seabirds and a large variety of other fish and elasmobranch species. The landing of tope is now banned in several Inshore Fisheries Coservation Areas (IFCAs) around the UK, to conserve stocks. In English waters, fishing for tope other than by rod and line is prohibited, and a 45 kg per day tope bycatch limit has been set in commercial fisheries targeting other species. Rod and line anglers fishing from boats will not be allowed to land their catches (dead or alive) ashore; however, they will be allowed to continue to practice catch and release.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below . Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.
ICES Advice 2015, Book 9 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/2015/gag-nea.pdf;
Shark Trust 2010. An illustrated Compendium of Sharks, Skates, Rays and Chimaera. Chapter 1: The British Isles and Northeast Atlantic. Part 2: Sharks; http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/summary/39352/1
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