After years of scientists and conservationists complaining about problems with common land-based shark fishing practices, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is finally taking action! At their April meeting, FWC formally announced that they are considering revising regulations governing this activity with the goal of restricting the unnecessary and cruel handling practices that result in killing protected species of sharks.
Here are the options that FWC is considering.
How can you help? Either physically attend a workshop or send a formal comment online!
FWC is holding public workshops on this topic for the next six weeks throughout the state of Florida, so if you live in Florida please try to attend one and speak in support of new regulations!
If you don’t live in Florida, you can submit your own comments online from anywhere from this online form.
Here’s what to say, and what not say, if you want to help make positive change for threatened shark species in Florida!
What to say (feel free to modify this or just use it as is, but being specific about which proposals you support and why is necessary, and it’s limited to 900 characters):
I support banning chumming from shore at swimming beaches. I support eliminating tournament categories for threatened species. I support requiring specific gear that will minimize fight time and minimize foul hooking. I support requiring that protected shark species by left in the water at all times, please clarify this to mean “water at least as deep as their gills.” I supporting requiring immediate release of protected species even if this means cutting the line and releasing the shark with a hook in its mouth trailing some line, particularly for physiologically fragile species like hammerhead sharks. A special permit for land-based fishing could be helpful by allowing FWC to monitor the scope of this activity and better target angler education efforts, but such a permit should not allow anglers to break these other rules.
What not to say:
A) Do not say “Ban shark fishing.” This is not going to happen. There is zero chance that the “fishing capital of the world” is going to ban shark fishing. It also isn’t necessary. Many species have healthy populations, and many species can withstand catch and release. If you use your public comment to take an extremist, unnecessary, and impossible stance, you are wasting it.
B) Do not say “Save the sharks!” You need to be specific in what you’re asking decisionmakers to do. General statements like this do not give them any kind of guidance, and amount to wasting your comment.
PLEASE NOTE: Commenting on this blog post is NOT sending a formal public comment to decisionmakers. Commenting on a Facebook post about this blog post is NOT sending a formal public comment to decisionmakers. Replying to a tweet about this blog post is NOT sending a formal public comment to decisionmakers. We are fortunate to have a real opportunity to contribute to positive change, but it only works if you use the existing official channel! If you want to have your voice heard, you need to either attend one of these ten workshops or send a comment through the link above- that’s it, those are the only two choices.