The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is very happy to announce that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has voted to add great, smooth and scalloped hammerhead sharks and tiger sharks to the protected species list. The final vote was held November 16th at the FWC meeting in Key Largo. The new ruling prohibits the harvest, possession, sale and exchange of these species by recreational and commercial fishermen in Florida state waters, which extend out nine miles in the Gulf of Mexico and three miles in the Atlantic Ocean. The ban on harvesting these sharks goes into effect January 1, 2012.
The FWC voted to protect these species of sharks because they have shown population declines of more than fifty percent. It is also especially vital to protect sharks in Florida’s waters where they are particularly susceptible to fishing pressure and often use state waters as a nursery ground. The 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.
Adding tiger sharks and the three species of hammerhead sharks to the protected species list marks the end of a year-long effort by several marine conservation groups and passionate individuals who petitioned the FWC at meetings held throughout the state. The FWC unanimously passed the mandate despite one individual dissenting during the public comment period. The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation sincerely appreciates everyones efforts on this very important legislation.