Update from British Record Fish Committee

The BRFC met at Fishmongers’ Hall, London Bridge, on the 9th of November 2023

Present were: Stephen Mardlin MBE (Chairman), Oliver Crimmen (Scientific Advisor, Natural History Museum), Andy Nellist (Vice-Chairman), Paul Coulson (Freshwater Specialist), James Maclaine (Scientific Advisor, Natural Natural History Museum), Paul Edwards, (Wales and Game Angling Representative) and Nick Simmonds (Secretary).

Remotely attending were: David Craig (Ireland representative), Dr Phill Williams (Marine Specialist), Nigel Hewlett (Freshwater Scientific Advisor) and Mat Mander (Marine Specialist).

Also joining the meeting by internet link as the BRFC’s guests were: Hannah Rudd, Dr Bryce Stewart and Dr Simon Thomas, representing Shark Hub UK.

The BRFC members and the Shark Hub UK representatives held an interesting and
constructive discussion focussed on fish handling and welfare issues and how the procedures for claiming British record captures of large shark species may be adapted to take account of best practice in catch and release of these fish.

The BRFC will soon be introducing length based records for all of the sea species on the main list (not for mini-species). For the larger shark species – Blue, Mako, Porbeagle, Thresher and Six-Gill – there will from now on be only length based records, with a requirement that the fish is measured whilst still in the water. The BRFC is currently engaged in defining the methodology for obtaining suitably accurate measurements and is investigating (in collaboration with Shark Hub UK) technology which may be available to develop digital measurement techniques for measuring fish still in the water.

The BRFC has undertaken a comprehensive review of its policy concerning non-native Coarse and Game species.

The committee agreed that henceforth the British Record List for Coarse Fish will only in-clude:
(i) species indigenous to British waters;
(ii) species originating in Europe and already on the list with established self-sustaining populations in Britain;
(iii) Carp and Crucian Carp, which have both been present in Britain for over 1,000 years.

The committee agreed that henceforth the British Record List for Game Fish will
include only fish indigenous to British Waters with two records for Brown Trout (migratory and non-migratory).

The BRFC Record Lists for Coarse Fish and Game Fish will be updated to reflect this
policy, with all records that are to be removed from the Record Lists to be moved to the Notable Fish List.

An important outcome of this review is that the BRFC will re-open the Wels catfish listing for new claims. The committee believes that the self-sustaining population of Wels catfish now growing to specimen size in British waters means that the threat of illegal imports of large catfish has diminished and is therefore willing to receive new claims for the species. In order to avoid an excessive volume of record claims, the BRFC will advise the threshold weight for new claims early in 2024.

The committee is reviewing species that are difficult to separate from each other using photographic evidence, particularly given the requirement to return some species as soon as possible at the point of capture.

The committee has already decided in that respect to make changes to the record listings for Smoothhound and Skate species as follows:
(i) to amalgamate the two currently separate record listings for Smoothhound (Mustelus mustelus) and Starry Smoothhound (Mustelus asterias) into a single listing for Smoothound.
(ii) to maintain only one record for both the Skate species Blue Skate (Dipturus Flossada) and Flapper Skate (Dipturus Intermedia).

Similar changes may follow in respect to other species.

The committee considered and accepted the following record claim as being duly ratified:

Steven’s goby (Gobius gasteveni), caught by Steve Clements from the shore at
Stonehouse, Plymouth, on 5th September 2023. This is the first appearance on the British
record list for this species and Steve’s catch was ratified for the record list at 9 grams.

The next meeting of the BRFC was scheduled for June 2024.

The Committee would like to remind readers that in the event of the capture of a potential record fish, the captor should first contact the British Record (rod-caught) Fish Committee without delay. Captors of potential record fish should contact the Secretary, Nick Simmonds, at the Angling Trust, on 01568 620447 or by email at [email protected]

Nick will record the details of the capture and advise the claimant on progressing the claim.

More information about what to do if you catch a record fish can be found on the BRFC web pages.

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