As the number of land-based shark attacks by recreational “sport” fisherman continues to rise in Florida, so does the outrage of animal advocates rallying to stop this appalling practice.
One such noted advocate is Adam Sugalski, the founder and executive director of animal rights advocacy nonprofit OneProtest, which recently launched a new website devoted to this issue, as well as the Save Florida Sharks campaign.
The organization defines Land-Based Shark Fishing as, “Attempting to capture and or the actual capture of sharks using a rod, reel, line, and hook(s) from the land and anything permanently attached to it.” For example: jetties, piers, and bridges.
Making the situation worse, oftentimes the sharks fall victim to ignorant, thoughtless, and cruel-intentioned thrill-seekers who are out for a selfie; endangering not only the animal’s life but their own.
“People’s safety and the health of our oceans supersedes anyone’s ‘hobby.’ Land-based ‘trophy shark fishing’ is a destructive practice that needs to be addressed once and for all,” Sugalski told WAN this morning, further explaining that while the so-called fishermen use the misunderstood catch and release system, most sharks often succumb to the stress and injuries. “Post-release mortality rates in sharks is the dirty little secret that shark fishermen don’t want to address, especially among endangered Hammerheads.”
The main goal of the Save Florida Sharks campaign is to have as many people as possible use their voice for the voiceless and speak out against the ridiculous non-sport of shark fishing, which is threatening both innocent lives, as well as the balance of the ocean’s ecosystem.
It is important to note, explained Sugalski, that “you do not have to be a Florida resident to voice your disdain for this barbaric practice.”
The Save Florida Sharks website outlines several ways that people can be heard by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which is the government agency that is in charge of making these rules.
The FWC is encouraging public input on rules and regulations regarding land-based shark fishing. This means both the animal advocates and the pro-land-shark fisherman will be heard. It is imperative that anti-land-shark fishing advocates are heard the loudest!
The primary way people can send messages to the FWS voicing their disapproval of land-based shark fishing can be found on the Save Florida Sharks website where they will find a link to a form to fill out with a comment section.
According to Sugalski, all messages will be reviewed and tallied before the FWC makes its decision in December 2018.
People in Florida can also attend FWC-sponsored shark workshops which are designed to encourage citizen input on the matter. More ways people can help and dates and times of the workshops can be found Here!
Sugalski was among those speaking out against what he has aptly dubbed land-based “trophy shark fishing.” The meeting is available to watch on the Florida Channel.
“Shark fishing rules and regulations are not being enforced,” Sugalski told WAN, explaining that lack of enforcement or consequence for breaking the law is jeopardizing shark populations in the state. “We need to let the FWC know that we want more rules, regulations, and enforcement when it comes to protecting our beaches and wildlife from the thrills of land-based shark fishers.”
“The biggest problem is that there are some rules but there is zero enforcement,” continued Sugalski. “Why have the rules if they are not going to be enforced?”
People who suspect a shark fishing violation or find a dead shark should report it to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Number at 888-404-FWCC or online at FWC Wildlife Alerts.
As per the Save Florida’s Sharks website, “It is time the FWC develops new rules to protect beach goers and our environment.” Save Florida Sharks needs people to fill out the FWC public comment form and tell them that YOU SUPPORT the following:
A permit requirement for shore-based shark fishermen.
Banning chumming. (Chumming is the practice of luring the sharks by throwing “chum” which is made from fish parts, bone, and blood, into the water to attract the sharks by their keen sense of smell.)
Banning shore-based shark fishing from guarded beaches or public bathing beaches.
Banning dry landing of sharks for catch and release.
Banning any tournament that targets prohibited species of sharks.
Banning the use of kayaks or drones to drop bait offshore.
The requirement of essential release tools (bolt cutters).
The gear requirement of non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks.
Strict enforcement of all land-based shark fishing rules.