This came after seven years of hard work by numerous people, including Dr. David Shiffman who is a marine conservation biologist at Simon Fraser University, and worked on land based shark fishing during his PhD at the university of Miami. Societies like the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), the SCB’s marine and North America section, as well as the American Elasmobranch Society all sent in official statements of scientific support for these new regulations. Even US Senator for Florida Marco Rubio sent in a letter supporting the proposed Florida shark fishing rule changes.
“Today’s decision is a victory for science, and for the conservation of IUCN Red List threatened species. I’d like to thank the FWC commissioners and staff for taking our concerns seriously. These new rules will protect threatened sharks from physiologically stressful, cruel, and unnecessary handling practices by recreational anglers,” said Shiffman in an official statement on Facebook. “The most important rule change here is requiring that protected species of sharks be left in the water. In the past, many anglers have dragged their catch out of the water onto a beach or pier, where their bodies lack the buoyant support of water, they can’t breathe and their gills start drying out, and they suffer injuries from the rough terrain. For protected species, especially the physiologically vulnerable hammerhead, that stops now.”
One of the new regulations would ban placing chum in the water for fishing. Chum is defined as fish, fish parts or other animal products which are placed in the water with the intent to attract marine wildlife. Other new rules include requiring a new annual permit (at no cost to shark fishermen), using non-stainless steel circle hooks (easier to remove than J-hooks and safer for the shark), and having fishermen release certain species immediately without taking them out of the water. All of these new rules would take effect July 1.
That means all protected shark species must be left in the water at all times if caught. Not all sharks survive after they have been hooked, with their chances dwindling if they are dragged ashore and undergo angling stress. Fishermen know this as “the fight,” and while sharks put up a good one, it often leaves them so stressed out they die after the experience as they suffer lethal and non-lethal physiological and metabolic stress. Hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna species) were by far the most vulnerable to fighting on a fishing line; other vulnerable species include blacktips (Carcharhinus limbatus) and thresher sharks (Alopias species) which are popular among fishermen for their “fight.” It has been suggested that fishermen seek out more species of sharks which are less sensitive to stress such as tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), blue (Prionace glauca), and lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris).
Scientists worldwide are studying how different species respond to and recover from stress. As one can imagine, their skin will receive micro-abrasions as it is hauled onto a beach or pier and they lose the buoyancy they need for their organs to function properly. Research has also shown that in times of stress, sharks can have their body turn to sugar stores in their muscles as an energy source replacement of oxygen. Called lactic acidosis, this condition is similar to what happens to our own bodies when we are doing vigorous exercise. The difference? It can be life-threatening for sharks. Most recently, researchers from Australia found that catch-and-release may not be as low stress for sharks as previously thought.
But these rules haven’t come without complaints from fishermen, some who told NBC2 News that these new rules “threaten long-held traditions and penalizes anglers who don’t own or can’t afford to fish for sharks using boats.” One such fishermen interviewed is Daniel Rodriguez of Melbourne, who asked the commission to be careful with what they put forth.”I ask that you tread lightly with your rules and fees,” Rodriguez wrote in a letter. “The ability to enjoy the fishing tradition including shark fishing should be affordable and accessible to everyone.”
The scientists and conservationists who put helped put these rules forward want to clarify they are not anti-fishing. Nine out of ten shark scientists agree that sustainable shark fishing is fine. “I’m not anti-fishing, I’m against needlessly cruel and rough handling practices that kill protected species in the name of anglers getting a cool picture. These new rules still allow fishing and don’t infringe on the rights of conservation-minded, rule following anglers. That’s why they were supported by so many anglers and angling interest groups in addition to environmentalists and other concerned citizens,” Shiffman said in his statement.
Like any new rules, enforcement will be needed to make sure people are obeying them. That could be difficult as Florida has 663 miles of shoreline. But, if followed properly, the shark populations in this region should benefit over time.
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The state of Florida( U.S.A.) has officially revealed brand-new land-based leisure shark fishing guidelines, authorized by means of a consentaneous vote by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Preservation Commission.
This followed 7 years of effort by many
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