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Shark anglers who kill their catch may soon be unwelcome in home port

June 9, 2009 |  3:05 pm

A 1,060-pound hammerhead shark is treated carefully after being caught and ultimately killed recently by Capt. Bucky Dennis off Boca Grande, Fla. Recreational fishermen in California are well aware of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative, an ongoing and controversial stakeholder-driven process that is working to put in place a vast network of marine protected areas, including no-fishing zones, along the coast.

But many probably have not heard of the fledgling Shark-Free Marina Initiative, which recently launched a campaign to try to prohibit the landing of sharks in marinas around the world.

The SFMI figures to receive more angler support than the MLPAI, but there will be veteran shark anglers who oppose such meddling.

The SFMI is a response by shark conservationists to the perilous plight most species of sharks face because of rampant overfishing on a global scale, commercially.

"Although the number of sharks killed by recreational fishermen each year is dwarfed by commercial catches, the current crisis facing shark stocks requires action wherever possible," Edd Brooks, a scientist on the SFMI advisory board, said in a news release. "We are not asking fishermen to stop fishing, only asking them to start releasing their catch."

It's a worthy endeavor. Killing sharks for sport is increasingly unpopular and harmful to the marine environment. It's worse than killing marlin and other billfish because sharks are so slow to reproduce.

Luke Tipple, director of the SFMI, said there are only six cooperating marinas -- it began with two marinas in the Bahamas -- but six others have registered and recruitment drives are planned for Florida and California. Essentially, cooperating marinas, which can register on the SFMI website, obtain signage and literature that cautions in bright-red lettering that bringing dead sharks back to port won't be tolerated.

It will be interesting to see whether this will catch on and what kind of reaction it garners.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A 1,060-pound hammerhead shark is treated carefully after being caught and ultimately killed recently by Capt. Bucky Dennis off Boca Grande, Fla. Credit: Julie Deibler

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