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Thread: Changes to Current Shark Fishing Rules on the Horizon

  1. #1
    Underwater Journal Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns's Avatar
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    Changes to Current Shark Fishing Rules on the Horizon

    Our fight to get Florida’s Lemon Shark moved to Protected Status

    Last night we attended one of five Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has scheduled a series of public workshops held this month to receive comments on the management of sharks in State waters.

    Attending last night’s meeting, held at the IGFA building in Ft. Lauderdale Florida was Gary Adkison for the Shark Foundation, Steve Stock for the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Dr Gruber (Bimini Shark Lab), Reef Rescue, myself and few dive operation represenatives.

    The basis of the meeting is the FWC is seeking feedback on options for amending its shark management rules (68B-44, F.A.C.), with the possibility to change them in full or part to comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coastal Sharks.

    I as I understand it, by complying with the ASMFC’ Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Large Atlantic Coastal Species of Sharks a minimum size (measured by fork length – nose to fork of the tail) take limit for lemon, bull, sandbar, dusky, hammerhead, tiger, etc., designed to "achieve conformity" with the rules agreed upon by the ASMFC would be set at 54-inches/137.16 cm (4.5 feet) for all of the aforementioned species.

    It was pretty unanimous, by everyone’s ones verbal sentiments in that room, instituting a minimum size limit without taking into account that specie’s natural history, but blanketing it with other, smaller species is a pretty backwards approach in the conservation management of sharks.

    As any shark biologist (we had Dr. Gruber with us) will verify, removing the breeding animals from the community, or destroy the habitat required for juvenile development, that fisheries will collapse.

    In the case of the Lemon Sharks (Negaprion brevirostris), several of us would like to see moved to protective status, take from 12-15 years to reach sexual maturity. The length of a sexually mature lemon shark is approximately 90-inches/230 cm (7.5 feet), which is a dam sight bigger than 54-inches. By the way, this information solidly substantiated by both Dr. Gruber, ongoing studies of lemon sharks in both Bimini and South Florida for the last 44 years and the ASMFC’s Interstate Fishery Management Panel.

    From juvenile to adult, lemon sharks entire life history is a coastal habitat from 1 to 200 feet of water. This makes them highly accessible to both commercial and recreation fishers employing the use of hook and line to nets. As such lemon shark is considered by both the NMFS and the ASMFC as a “highly vulnerable species" of large coastal sharks in US waters.

    Based on the data we have been compiling on the South Florida’s Lemon Shark Aggregation study, the “highly vulnerable” status should be taken as a serious understatement.

    From a commercial standpoint, Lemons rank # 7 in commercial landings at 62,000 lbs. vs. 1.5 Million pounds taken annually in sandbar shark landings - the number one shark targeted here.*And that primary purpose for the harvesting of lemons is for the fins, which on the world market is grade B quality.

    The FWC encourages interested persons to participate in the workshops, three of which have already taken place, with two more scheduled for June 24 down in the Florida Keys, with the last one the following night, June 25th, in Punta Gorda, Florida. Both will take from 6-8 p.m. local time. To find out where, go to FWC - Marine Fisheries Advisory Boards and Workgroups

    So do we. As mentioned earlier, our goal over the next several months will be to push both the State and the Feds to elevate lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) to a Prohibited Take Group by both Commercial and Recreational fishers. It is a goal we feel that we can achieve with the help of the public at large.

    To see the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coastal Sharks in its entirety - http://www.asmfc.org/speciesDocument...stalSharks.pdf

    FWC:
    http://www.myfwc.com/docs/RulesRegul...egulations.pdf
    http://www.myfwc.com/docs/RulesRegul...esentation.pdf

    Other links:
    Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation – index
    The Shark Foundation - Shark Foundation - Foundation for research and the preservation of sharks
    Bimini Shark Lab - Bimini Biological Field Station - shark research & marine biology internships
    Shark Safe - The Shark Safe Project
    Shark-Free Marinas - SHARK-FREE MARINAS: Reducing worldwide shark mortality.
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    Walt Stearns
    Editor-in-Chief
    www.UnderwaterJournal.com

  2. #2
    Mostly cold ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown has a reputation beyond repute ChrisBrown's Avatar
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    Re: Changes to Current Shark Fishing Rules on the Horizon

    Walt, your efforts are greatly appreciated. In the absence of any organised global management of our international waters it falls on the few crusaders to protect whats left at a local level in an attempt to limit the damage.

    Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. So few people understand how many hundreds of sharks, birds, turtles and other marine fishes / mammals can be decimated by longlining and even fewer seem to understand that the global trade in shark fins is rivalling that of illegal narcotics

    Please also post this on TDS and any other dive site you can think of. Wish Id seen this earlier, I would have gone to the Keys meeting. Personally I cant see how anything other than a total no take will stop the decline, but I guess we have to first ensure that animals are at least left until they reach sexual maturity.

    ALSO - ALL US DIVERS CHECK THIS OUT FROM WALTS LINKS . ITS GOING ON RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSES, NOT JUST IN THE PACIFIC The Shark Safe Project
    Last edited by ChrisBrown; 24th June 2009 at 22:36.

  3. #3
    Underwater Journal Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns is a name known to all Walt Stearns's Avatar
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    Re: Changes to Current Shark Fishing Rules on the Horizon

    Thanks Chris,

    Also, here are some notes forwarded to me made by Cheryl Black who attended the Punta Gorda meeting:

    The following people attended the workshop:

    Bob Heuter, Mote Marine Lab
    Jose Castro, Mote Marine Lab
    Cheryl Black, Edison State College
    Ralph Allen, Angler
    Sean Paxton, Boat Captain
    Brooks Paxton, Boat Captain

    Comments:

    Ralph Allen
    Blacknose sharks are not overfished, and the 54” minimum size takes this species ‘off the
    table’ as they do not get that big. Concern about this species comes from the number of individuals that have been included in shrimp trawl by-catch. As shrimp trawling has decreased considerably over the past few years, the number of sharks in the by-catch have also decreased significantly. He also mentioned that data from recreational fishermen does not generate accurate harvest levels because many fishermen can't correctly identify shark species.

    Bob Heuter
    Florida has historically been a leader in promoting and implementing shark fishing regulations - would like to see the State anticipate what needs to be done to protect sharks rather than waiting until sharks are in trouble.

    Concurs with adding the sandbar, silky, and Caribbean sharpnose to the prohibited species list and recommends incuding:
    -all hammerhead species (except the bonnethead) – some populations have declined as much as 90%
    -tiger sharks in the Gulf Coast – populations have also plummeted in the last 15 years

    Suggested considering slot limits instead of fork limits to determine the size of “keepers” - may provide protection for older juveniles and reproductive females and let fishermen take older individuals that are past their reproductive prime.

    Blacktips can be exempted from the 54” rule – they are not overfished, are a favorite species for recreational fishermen.

    Maintain the present bag limit regulation.

    Consider implementing seasonal closures of pupping areas to protect females and growing neonates.

    Prohibit shark KILLING tournaments.

    Cheryl Black
    Mentioned that developing a consensual Gulf Coast Shark Management Program, while not the responsibility of the FFWCC, is vital for protecting sharks as they move in and out of Florida’s waters to those of neighboring states

    Stressed the importance of basing management programs on good, valid scientific data as well as anecdotal data acquired from fishermen

    Sean Paxton only noted that management issues are becoming very important to recreational fishermen.

    I am still waiting to find out what was the attendance; stance by those attending the Islamorada The input from the public gatherings will be submitted to FWC staff to draft a rule for a September commission meeting in Central Florida, with a final public hearing to be scheduled for December, with any rule changes taking effect in 2010. We are in the process of gearing up for the September meeting with a few preliminary meetings with FWC before then.
    Walt Stearns
    Editor-in-Chief
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