WHAT IS CONSIDERED ILLEGAL ACTIVITY?
If the shark caught is a prohibited species and they remove the shark from the water. Prohibited shark species must be released without delay when fishing from the shore. A person may not remove a prohibited species from Florida Waters. Prohibited shark species must remain in the water with the gills submerged when fishing from shore or from a vessel, and prohibited shark species must be released without delay when fishing from the shore. If hook removal will delay the release, cut the hook or the leader as close to the hook as possible. Click here to see prohibited sharks.
If they use chum. Chumming is prohibited when fishing for any species from the beach.
If they don't have a cutting device capable of cutting the hook or leader (such as a bolt or cable cutter). A person targeting or harvesting sharks from Florida Waters must have in his or her possession at least one device capable of quickly cutting either the leader or the hook used. A person catching but not retaining a shark must quickly remove the hook or use such a cutting device to quickly remove tackle and fishing gear as possible to release the shark immediately without unnecessary harm.
If they don't use non-offset circle hooks. This means a fishing hook designed and manufactured so that the point is not offset and is turned perpendicularly back to the shank to form a general circular or oval shape.
If they are using a treble hook or any other multiple hooks (any hook with two or more points and a common shaft) in conjunction with live or dead natural bait. Non-offset, non-stainless-steel circle hooks are required when targeting or harvesting sharks when using live or dead natural bait.
If they have not completed the FWC’s shore-based shark fishing course and are without a permit. A shore-based shark fishing permit is required for all shore-based shark anglers age 16 and older, including those 65 and older who are normally exempt from needing a fishing license.
An alarming rate of shore-based shark fishers are breaking the law and getting away with it. Shore-based shark fishing targets explicitly prohibited species of sharks such as endangered hammerheads, tiger, and lemon sharks. Shark fishing rules and regulations are not being enforced. The lack of enforcement or consequence for breaking the law is jeopardizing shark populations and human safety.
Recreational shark fishing is on the rise with 66 million sharks caught on the U.S. east coast, including 1.2 million prohibited species (Kilfoil et al. 2017). The U.S. recreational shark fishery kills twice as many large species of sharks than the commercial fishery (Lowther and Liddel 2015). The “unintentional” mortality occurs after the shark is thought to be released in good condition, but the physiological stress of capture causes the animal to die after release (a.k.a. post-release mortality). Post-release mortality varies between species and capture methods and it can be very high (i.e. >60% for thresher sharks, Sepulveda et al. 2015).
Physiological stress response, reflex impairment, and survival of five sympatric shark species following experimental capture and release - Click here to read this scientific paper on the effects of catch and release.
Photo: Walter Coker
This shark fishing rig was found floating in Matanzas Inlet.