Marine sports blue shark

Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme

The aim of the Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme is to research and promote the conservation of elasmobranchs. Elasmobranchs are fish species with a skeleton composed entirely of cartilage, rather than bone. This group of fish includes sharks, skates and rays.

Blonde Ray

Catch & Release, a more sustainable approach

Since the programme began in 1970, many charter skippers around the Irish coast have collaborated with Inland Fisheries Ireland and its predecessors, to gather information on the size, distribution (geographic spread) and migratory habits of sharks, skates and rays. This programme was initiated to encourage the catch and release of elasmobranchs at a time when retaining everything caught on a fishing trip was commonplace. It remains one of the longest running tagging programmes of its kind in the world.

fisherman with a shark

50 years tracking Ireland’s sharks, skates & rays

Over 40,000 individual fish have been caught, measured, tagged and released over 50 years with over 3,000 recaptures. Many increasingly rare marine sports fish species have been tagged including common skate species complex and angelshark, as well as those more abundant species, such as thornback and spotted ray. This programme has documented the movement of blue shark around the Atlantic Ocean, how the angelshark has become locally extinct from Irish waters and provided evidence for seasonal site fidelity of juvenile porbeagle around the Irish coast.

Citizen science — get involved by reporting tagged fish

Many types of tag are used within the Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme; see our Tagging and Telemetry webpage for more information. Tags are attached to a variety of elasmobranchs around the Irish coastline; if you catch a tagged fish, please record the number on the tag and the details of its capture.

While we would really appreciate you making a special effort not to kill a fish (catch-photo-release, CPRsavesfish), if you have, please remove and return the tag to the address below with details of the fish’s length, weight and method of recapture.

All fishermen returning a Marine Sportfish tag and recapture details will receive an 'Irish Marine Sportfish Tagging Cap'. They will be provided with as much information as we have on the fish that they caught. This will include time & place of original tagging, days at liberty and distance covered.

For more instructions on reporting tagged fish you catch, please visit our Citizen Science webpage.


Have you caught a tagged fish?

Keep your eyes peeled and report tagged fish you catch. Please be aware that tags can become covered in algae and difficult to see at first! Inland Fisheries Ireland regularly tags eels, bass, sea trout and elasmobranchs. Take a photo, measure the fish, weigh or estimate its weight, record the tag number and then let the fish go. Tell us in as much detail as possible where you caught it, including the time and date and fishing method used to catch it. Send an email with the information to the relevant email below.

Join our tagging team to tag elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) and bass. Anglers who regularly catch these species can be trained and equipped for tagging by staff at Inland Fisheries Ireland. Our Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme has been running for 50 years and has tagged over 40,000 fish, providing fantastic information on the distribution and movement patterns of 15 different species.

Who do I contact?


For more information, you can visit our webpages for the Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme and on Tagging and Telemetry.