June 12th, 2009 by admin
This week there were two very different announcements concerning sharks.
First, the Destin Fishing Rodeo, a month-long fishing tournament that takes place during the month of October, announced that this year’s event will feature “Shark Saturday.” Every Saturday during the tournament participants will be encouraged to catch sharks and bring them to the docks to weigh. The largest (dead) shark will win a prize. The tournament explained that the new feature was intended to add “excitement” to the event.
Reaction to the announcement was mixed. In Thursday’s Northwest Florida Daily News, columnist Del Stone Jr. asked, rhetorically, “Who but a fool would pass up a chance to see a giant, bloody carcass hanging from a hook with its entrails slopping over the dock?”
Also this week the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced a series of workshops* to be held throughout Florida to receive comments from the public about commercial and recreational shark fishing.
The FWC is considering several changes to its shark fishing rules, including adopting a 4.5 foot minimum size limit for recreational fishermen (sharks shorter than that could not be kept).
Many species of sharks have seen their numbers decline in recent years. To preserve a healthy population of sharks, it is important to protect young sharks. (This is especially important for bull sharks and other species who do not reach sexual maturity until 12 to 18 years of age.) Because many species of sharks give birth in estuaries and bays along Florida’s coast, protecting sharks in state waters is vital.
The size limit is a small change, but if enacted will prevent the killing of many young sharks. Now if we could only convince the Destin Fishing Rodeo to stop killing the older, “trophy size” sharks!
*The workshops begin Monday night in Panama City, and continue the following week in Key Colony Beach, Cocoa, Punta Gorda and Dania Beach. Click here for times and locations.