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Capture of 748-pound mako shark off Florida stirring up controversy

October 7, 2009 |  9:56 am

Florida anglers are being sharply criticized after apparently free-gaffing a 748-pound mako shark while fishing this week off South Florida.

The accompanying video, which is making the rounds on the Internet, shows the fishermen trying to gaff the free-swimming shark, which had become interested in a swordfish they had alongside their vessel. They succeeded in catching the predator and the footage ended up on a Florida TV station website.

A comment on YouTube from someone called Zencaster read: "I have been big-game fishing for 25 years and this is the most amateur kill I have ever seen. No wonder they have never seen anything like this before. They gaffed a green mako feeding on roadkill and were lucky they weren’t pulled in or worse, get their boat torn up after pulling him aboard.... What a disgrace, the fish deserved better."

Making note that no rods or reels appear to have been used in the capture of the mako, at least one shark conservation website claimed the anglers were in violation of state and federal law and implied it would follow through with authorities.

Luke Tipple, a marine biologist and director of the Shark-Free Marina Initiative, posted regulations that appear to have been violated.

"I’d hazard that I’m not the first to pick up on these fine points of the law but if the video does indeed tell the full tale then these laws need to be enforced," Tipple wrote. "If however the fishermen can provide video evidence of them using PRIMARY tackle (i.e. hook and line) to initialize the capture then they would be within their rights to have landed the shark.

"If this turns out to be the case then I will instead turn this report into a cautionary tale of how the media should be more responsible in reporting on shark harvests, particularly when dealing with species considered by some to be globally threatened."

The mako is listed as a "threatened" species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

-- Pete Thomas

Video: YouTube

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