Friday, October 16, 2009

Why All Shark Tournaments Should be Catch and Release

Destin, Florida's Annual Fishing Rodeo draws crowds and brings business to local retailers and charter boats. Their addition of the "Shark Saturdays" category, however, in which a $250 prize is awarded for the biggest shark brought in every Saturday in October, gives this family event a big black eye.

The photo at the left shows a juvenile tiger shark - only 78 pounds - brought to the dock on October 10th. Because of their biology (they basically pee through their skin), shark meat is not edible unless the animal is immediately gutted on put on ice.

The winning shark was a 140 pound bull shark that probably hadn't even reached reproductive age yet. On the first Shark Saturday, October 3rd, a Hammerhead (classified by the IUCN as 'Endangered') was brought to the docks and then discarded.

Yet this very same tournament has a Billfish Division, for which anglers bring a photo to the weigh station --- yes, all catch and release! Why not make all fishing tournaments catch and release for sharks as well. Please see these Seven Vital Reasons Why Shark Tournaments are Changing to 'Catch and Release':

Shark Safe Network and Oceanic Defense are working together on this important issue. Fishing tournaments can be family friendly community events that benefit everyone and don't harm the environment. Killing the most ecologically important animals in the sea is not family friendly and it's not necessary.

Thank you to Omar Mulla and friends for his photo and report.

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