WorldFishingNetwork.com – Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, it will be illegal for anglers to harvest tiger sharks and three species of hammerheads in Florida state waters.
The motion was brought forth by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on Nov. 16 in an effort to further protect these top predators that rely on Florida waters to survive.
“Sometimes the appropriate measures of conservation are the problems we avoid, not the problems we have to fix,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski.
The new measures will also prohibit possession, sale, and exchange of tiger sharks and great, scalloped and smooth hammerhead sharks. These sharks can still be caught, but only if released alive.
FWC’s decision comes after more than a year of deliberation. Concerned citizens, shark researchers, and shark anglers expressed their desires to FWCto see increased protections for sharks.
Florida waters offer essential habitat for young sharks, which is important for species such as the slow-to-reproduce tiger shark, which takes about 15 years to reach maturity.
Sharks have been strictly regulated in Florida since 1992, with a one-shark-per-person, two-sharks-per-vessel daily bag limit for all recreational and commercial harvesters and a ban on shark finning. Roughly two-dozen overfished, vulnerable or rare shark species are catch-and-release only in Florida waters.
In addition to the new measures, FWC is also working on an educational campaign highlighting fishing and handling techniques that increase the survival rate of sharks that are caught and released while ensuring the safety of the anglers targeting them.