Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) is looking into adding regulations for shore-based shark fishing. The proposal intends to ban chumming from shore, dragging caught-sharks ashore, and mandating the use of circle hooks and shark fishing permits. FFWCC, in a summary for the proposal, outlined the proposals in more detail: “a mandatory no-cost, annual SBSF permit for all shore-based shark fishermen 16 and older; requiring immediate release of prohibited sharks; requiring prohibited sharks remain in the water (when fishing from shore and vessels); and requiring the use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks”. Recently, shark fishing from shore has become very popular, which is why the FFWCC is considering these measures. Shore-based shark fishermen are expressing some opposition to these new proposals. They are concerned with their safety while releasing sharks that have to remain in the water, according to this Sun Sentinel article. Some form of restrictions are necessary to both mitigate risks for beachgoers and the long-term health of Florida’s sharks.
The FFWCC proposals appear to be intended for the conventional anglers that target large sharks from shore. So, it will be interesting to see if and how these proposals affect fly fishermen, who similarly rely on chumming to attract sharks. Additionally, circle hooks are not widely used by fly fishermen, so that component–if passed–would have immediate implications for fly fishermen. It will be interesting to see how the FFWCC will vote on these shark fishing restrictions on February 20th.
Sharks are immensely important for marine ecosystems. As natural apex predators, sharks regulate their respective ecosystems, ensuring only the strongest and healthiest species survive and reproduce. Therefore, sharks are indicative of healthy marine ecosystems and should be protected. Florida’s marine ecosystems already have enough to worry about with toxic algal blooms and red tides, so regulations that seek to protect one of the most essential components of the ecosystems sound like a no-brainer. At the same time, these regulations may impact Florida’s multi-million dollar blue-economy. Hopefully, the FFWCC can enact simple and effective measures to protect sharks and beachgoers.
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