Shark slaughter
in Lysekil:criminal investigation launched

31 March, 2022

Deep Sea Reporters/Tobias Dahlin’s minute-long film sequence showing the shark massacre in Lysekil’s harbour basin has provoked very strong reactions. Hundreds of thousands of people in Sweden and around the world have seen the film, and a large number have reacted with disgust to the way some fishermen treat marine wildlife, in this case protected sharks and rays.

The Coastguard has launched a criminal investigation and has closed off the port area on Thursday while carrying out a technical investigation, including diving. Interviews have also been conducted. The offence can result in a daily fine or imprisonment. The professional fisherman may also lose his licence and be forced to stop fishing, this decision is taken by the Swedish Water and Fisheries Agency.

It was yesterday that we first published the film here on At the bottom of Lysekil harbour lies some 60 dogfish and several rays. All indications are that they were dumped by a trawler. The spiny dogfish, the spotted dogfish and the thornback ray are classified as critically endangered and endangered. Tobias Dahlin’s/DeepSea Reporter’s close-up photos show with uncomfortable clarity that several of the sharks are still breathing, but dying.

The discovery was made by some students studying marine biology in Lysekil. Valdemar Klemming says they were walking along the harbour in the evening and spotted the white bellies of the protected sharks. The youngsters dove in and examined the dead and injured fish.

– It’s so tragic. That it should be allowed to be like this in Sweden, that protected fish can be treated in this way. Bottom trawling is damaging the sharks, torturing them to death, says Klemming.

Another of the young people, Emily Okcu Van Dyke, says that there is a growing youth movement in Lysekil, which is passionate about marine life and stopping harmful bottom trawling.

The endangered fish are likely to have been caught in a bottom trawl. The professional fishermen must sort the fish as soon as the trawl is on board and release the released fish. In this case, sharks and rays have been brought into the harbour, where they have been thrown overboard, in some cases still alive but mortally wounded. They die a painful death and eventually suffocate.

The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management writes on its website that it has received many questions from the media and the public. “The incident has aroused anger and consternation,” writes the authority, responding to common questions from the public:

What do you at HaV think about the fact that there are a lot of dogfish at the bottom of Lysekil harbour?

– It is of course both distressing and very unfortunate that a number of critically endangered turbot sharks are dying at the bottom of a harbour. It is important that they are released immediately upon capture. We understand that by-catches of turbot and other species occur in different fishing gears, but it is important to abide by the rules that exist to help protect threatened and vulnerable species.

Is it possible that a crime has been committed? If so, which one?

– Yes, it could be. Since the fish has clearly been taken on board a vessel and later thrown overboard, a charge of unauthorised fishing may be brought under Article 40 of the Fisheries Act.

What are you doing at HaV now? Are you following up on the incident?

– Yes, we have a dialogue with other authorities, such as the Coast Guard. A criminal report has been drawn up by the Coastguard, which has also opened a preliminary investigation into fishing offences.

If this were on land, the dumping of injured animals would be considered cruelty to animals – but wild fish are not covered by the Animal Welfare Act. Or is it a crime to mistreat fish that have been caught? Deep Sea Reporter is researching the topic. We will also put the question to the relevant authorities:

How do you protect protected and endangered fish as long as bottom trawling is allowed?

– This is both sad and serious. We have laws and regulations to protect our sensitive seas and biodiversity, and it is a violation of the law not to follow them,” says Jonas Berg, head of the coastal station in Lysekil, in a press release.

Other students who participated in the discovery are Robin Kanthe, Gustav Nyström, Erik Siemers, Kelvin Hyle’n, Victor Aron, Emanuel Nordin

Text: Peter Löfgren
Photo: Tobias Dahlin

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Sheltered animals face a painful death. At the bottom of Lysekil harbour there are about 60 dogfish and several rays. Dogfish, Klorocka and Knagrocka are classified as highly threatened and endangered. Tobias Dahlin/Deep Sea Reporter’s close-up photos show with uncomfortable clarity that several of the sharks are still breathing, but dying….
Text: Peter Löfgren
Photo: Tobias Dahlin
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