Shockingly, a controversial shark-killing tournament was allowed to take place over the weekend in Jupiter, Florida. This, despite the valiant efforts of One Protest and its petition to stop the hunt that garnered close to 150,000 signatures in a matter of days. The dreaded so-called “contest” is over but the fury over it continues.
Reportedly, 54 boats full of fisherman participated in the travesty which resulted in the deaths of at least nine sharks, with the largest weighing in at 397lbs. An estimated 100 to 125 sharks were also believed to be caught and released. Jason Barquin, under his newly formed company, Warbird Tournaments LLC.,hosted the appalling event that cost a $100 entry fee per boat.
“In a horrific display, they killed sharks not for sustenance but for trophies and “fun,” One Protest shared on its Facebook page. “They then brought the lifeless bodies to a weigh-in station and used chainsaws and knives to chop them up and cut out their jaws for a trophy.”
As per the advocacy organization, Barquin is a former police officer who was arrested in April and charged with battery, false personation, and unlawful use of badges among other offenses. One Protest also shared that one of the other organizers of the shameful tournament, Robert Navarro, is also a known bear hunter.
They are among those trophy hunters “who use terms like conservation, overpopulation, and loss of profit to justify their actions. There is no scientific data that supports their claims that sharks are in abundance.” In fact, as noted by One Protest, there is scientific evidence that shark populations are declining worldwide.
Tragically, over 100 million sharks are killed yearly, and shark populations have declined by 70% over the past 50 years. Sharks encounter numerous threats such as overfishing, being caught as bycatch, finning, habitat loss, and more. Sharks reproduce slowly, and tournaments such as this often target the largest sharks, which happen to be the females, and it is not uncommon for pregnant sharks to be killed.
Florida state law allows the legal “harvest” of one shark per person and two sharks per boat. The FWC, which was aware of the advertised shark-killing tournament, responded that fishing tournaments do not require approval by the FWC; however, they must comply with state and federal fishing regulations.
“It is appalling that the FWC and NOAA, two agencies in charge of protecting sharks, allow fishing tournaments that promote an absolute disregard for life. This tournament is not about sustenance. It is about the thrill of the kill and fosters a lack of respect for sharks and their essential role in keeping our underwater ecosystems healthy and balanced,” the organization explains in their petition. “This lack of respect breeds poaching and other egregious acts.”
On a more positive note, One Protest stated that “The days when people and the agencies in charge of protecting sharks and other wildlife ignore science, and the public’s will to cater to industry-driven profits, special interests, and politics are numbered.”
“When we started our petition, we knew that the likelihood of it canceling the tournament was slim. But we use petitions as a catalyst for change and to raise awareness. We now have access to over 100,000 shark defenders to which we can send important calls to action via a petition update. We are actively working on new actions to take so stay tuned for updates,” concluded the organization. “If you haven’t already, please join the fight and sign and share our petition.”
Please sign the petition urging for an end to these types of cruel and unnecessary killing contests in Florida, HERE!