Basking shark on list of fish at risk of extinction in Irish waters

Red List of endangered species includes another 25 types found off Irish coasts

Groups of basking sharks, humpback whales and dolphins were filmed off the coast of Baltimore, Co.Cork last week. Video: Provision


The daunting looking but harmless basking shark is one of 11 species on a new list of fish at risk of extinction in Irish waters.

The Red List of marine life classed as critically endangered or endangered also included another 25 types found off Irish coasts which are said to be vulnerable or near threatened.

The report warned that while none of the species are fished for commercially, some are still taken as by-catch in fisheries.

Fifty-eight species were analysed by scientists with the future of Portuguese dogfish, the common flapper and white skates and the porbeagle and angel sharks ranked as critical.

Liver oil

Basking sharks are the second biggest fish in the world and were once hunted by coastal communities along the west coast for the oil in their livers.

They are now widespread and increasingly common visitors to plankton-rich shorelines from the spring through the summer - but their future is uncertain.

“Although the targeted fisheries have ceased, population recovery is known to be very slow in certain species which were previously exploited, such as the basking shark, due to low productivity and late age at maturity,” the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said.

The criteria to determine the latest Red List was developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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