A species of native shark swimming in Irish waters for the past 4m years is on the verge of extinction.
It is thought there are fewer than a dozen angel sharks left in our waters after decades of netting have all but wiped out the once plentiful creature.
Leading marine expert Kevin Flannery said there have only been three sightings of the shark this year.
“We believe we are down to the last dozen or so but at this point they could even be wiped out.
“It’s crazy. It just can’t be allowed to happen. It has been around for 4m years. We’re wiping out 4m years of one of our prehistoric animals. Is it fair to do that? Is it right to do that?
“It is a native shark. Imagine tomorrow morning if the red deer was wiped out, or the red squirrel. Because they are out of sight, they are out of mind.”
Mr Flannery, the director of Dingle Ocean World, said there was a real possibility the bottom- feeding predator could completely die out in this country due to years of being caught in nets set at the bottom of the ocean to catch crayfish and turbot.
It is illegal to catch angel sharks but Mr Flannery said this was difficult to enforce. He said he believed the shark could be saved if Marine Minister Simon Coveney rewarded fisherman for releasing those caught in their nets.
“I have written to the minister and begged and pleaded with him to take action. The minister has to do more than pass it on to his agencies,” he said.
“It is a matter of priority. If this isn’t done it’s a major species gone from our environment.”
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