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 sportfish species have been tagged including common skate 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 and how the angelshark has become locally extinct from Irish waters.


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.