Call for protection of basking sharks with Donegal one of five Irish hotspots which are home to up to 20% of global population

The coast of Donegal is well-known for its large population of basking sharks.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 12:51 pm

But did you know it is one of five hotspots in Ireland that some marine biologists believe could be home to up to a fifth of the global population of the second-largest fish on earth?

Social Democrat T.D. Jennifer Whitmore spoke of the prodigious numbers of basking sharks that can be found off the headlands of Donegal.

“Recent studies have indicated that Ireland could be home to 10% to 20% of the global population of this species.

A Basking Shark being tagging off Malin Head a few years ago.

“Of the eight known coastal surface hotspots in the north-east Atlantic, five are located off the coasts of Cork, Kerry, Clare, Mayo and Donegal.

“We are truly blessed to have this amazing creature come to our shores every year and call Ireland home.

“However, basking sharks are endangered and they are at very high risk of extinction in the wild. They were first classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list in 2018; they had previously been classified as vulnerable but they are now endangered,” she said.

Deputy Whitmore was speaking as she moved a new bill to amend the Wildlife Act 1976 to make it illegal to injure, disturb or harass Cetorhinus maximus (or to use its Irish name, liamhán mór gréine, the great fish of the sun). The bill, if passed, will amend the wildlife legislation to add the basking shark to the list of protected species.