At its February meeting in Gainesville, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved changes to shark fishing regulations, including management changes for the shore-based shark fishery. Some minor changes to the original proposal were also made, as noted below. These rules are intended to increase survival of released sharks, improve information gathering for the fishery and address some of the public safety concerns related to the fishery.
The rule changes go into effect July 1, 2019, and include:
- Creating a mandatory, no-cost, annual shore-based shark fishing permit. (CHANGE: This permit will be required for all shore-based shark anglers age 16 and older, including those 65 and older who are normally exempt from needing a fishing license.)
- CHANGE: Requiring those under 16 to take the educational requirement associated with the permit unless they are fishing with an adult who already holds the permit.
- Prohibiting chumming when fishing for any species from the beach.
- Requiring immediate release of prohibited shark species when fishing from the shore. (CHANGE: Requiring anglers to cut the leader, line or hook to prevent delaying release of prohibited species).
- Requiring that prohibited shark species remain in the water (when fishing from shore or from a vessel).
- Requiring the use of non-offset, non-stainless-steel circle hooks to target or harvest sharks when using live or dead natural bait (when fishing from shore and from a vessel).
- Requiring the possession/use of a device capable of quickly cutting the leader or hook when targeting sharks (when fishing from shore or a vessel).
- Defining beach, chumming and shore-based shark fisher (CHANGE: includes changes to how shore-based shark fisher is defined).
- Cleaning up and updating the current rule language.