Stop Dolphin Abuse


Land-based shark fishing (LBSF) is an adrenaline-fueled sport practiced by a small segment of the fishing community. Shark fishing typically takes place at night, and the fishermen often use kayaks to drop bloody baits out past the surf line. Currently, there are no state laws regulating shark fishing, allowing shark fishermen to fish wherever and whenever they want. The shark fishermen often chum the waters with bloody fish pieces, attracting large predatory sharks into public swimming beaches. Shark fishermen engage in extended fight times with these sharks and finish by dragging their large catches up high and dry onto the sand. As a result of these practices, many sharks cannot survive the stress of this type of fishing and die as a result of this sport. There is ample evidence online that these shark fishermen engage in illegal and unethical practices associated with this sport such as the use of illegal baits, the landing, and possession of illegal fish and the wanton and willful waste of wildlife.


Recreational shark fishing is on the rise with 66 million sharks caught on the U.S. east coast, including 1.2 million prohibited species (Kilfoil et al. 2017). The U.S. recreational shark fishery lands (kills) twice as many large species of sharks than the commercial fishery (Fish Report 2015). The “unintentional” mortality occurs after the shark is thought to be released in good condition, but the physiological stress of capture causes the animal to die after release (a.k.a. post-release mortality). Post-release mortality varies between species and capture methods, and it can be very high (i.e.>60% for thresher sharks, Sepulveda et al. 2015).


Fragile, large, prohibited species of sharks such as hammerhead and tiger sharks are often targeted by recreational anglers that fish from the shore in south Florida. It's these sharks that are most susceptible to the lethal effects of land-based shark fishing. Gallagher et al. 2014 found great hammerheads to be the most susceptible to mortality after a fishing interaction with one individual dying after just a 24-minute “fight time.” During land-based fishing, the “fight-time” on the line can be considerable (> 6 hours), in a low dissolved oxygen environment (the surf zone), once landed the animal is exposed to air for a prolonged time while the fishermen pose for and take photos. Sometimes prying the jaws open for the “money shot” using significant pressure to open them despite the animal having “lockjaw”. The animal is denied oxygen while it remains on dry sand and gravity puts pressure on the internal organs so the fishermen can remove hooks, which are often large J-hooks that are easily swallowed and can cause internal bleeding, not the more common advocated circle hooks that catch in the jaw.


The individual numbers of deceased sharks due to this activity may not seem significant to the population BUT recreational post-release mortality (along with commercial post-release mortality, recreational landings, research set-asides) are subtracted from the Total Allowable Catch to determine commercial quotas…therefore, if data about how many sharks die after being released by recreational fishermen is inaccurate, then the commercial quotas (the largest portion of the total allowable catch) is inaccurate.