As you know, one of Shark Safe's current campaigns is to encourage shark tournaments to change to catch-and-release only. Additionally we aim to stop shark fishing that is done solely for the purpose of trophy. We are not alone in this quest, which is good for the sharks. The recent study regarding the likely extinction of shark favorites like the great white and the hammerhead has garnered a lot of attention.
Fortunately the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is responding to the call for tighter management on shark fishing. Their goal was to seek feedback on options for amending its shark management rules that would comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coastal Sharks. Over the past few weeks, workshops were held in different locations around the state. Some Shark Safe members as well as divers, fishermen, and shark scientists attended to give voice to the myriad topics.
Among the items discussed:
1. Overview of the ASMFC Plan Requirements -- Florida must comply with these rules, but may also be more restrictive
2. The ASMFC Plan applies to the Atlantic Coast of Florida -- should the same measures apply on the Gulf Coast?
3. Should Commercial and Recreational fisheries continue to be managed under the same rules?
4. Suggestions for alternative measures for shark management
5. Should FL rules be more restrictive than ASMFC?
1. Adding species to the Prohibited Species List
2. Banning "live mounts" for taxidermy
3. Protect breeding females by instituting maximum size limits to protect breeding female sharks
4. Require all Shark Tournaments to be 100% Catch and Release
In September there will be a draft rule hearing, then in December more public comments will be taken and the Commission will vote on it. Any new rules passed will go into effect in January 2010. In the meantime, please feel free to share your comments and suggestions.
Here are your contacts:
Aaron Podey, Fisheries Management Analyst : Aaron.Podey@MyFWC.com
Melissa Recks, Biological Scientist II: Melissa.Recks@MyFWC.com
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission:
AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
Draft Addendum I to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coastal Sharks for Public Comment
Public comment accepted until 5:00 PM EST, June 30, 2009
E-mail Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a good summary written after the Dania Beach workshop: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/story/1117433.html.
Additional background info on the FWC meetings: http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20090609/BREAKINGNEWS/90609051/1006/NEWS01/Florida+fisherman+could+face+new+shark+fishing+rules
We are definitely excited about the outcome of the workshops and have hope that new rules will result. Stay tuned...