New rules in effect for shark fishing
Planning to fish for sharks soon? New shark fishing requirements went into effect Monday, including a mandatory, no-cost, annual Shore-based Shark Fishing Permit and educational course for shore-based anglers and other requirements that apply to all shark fishing and fishing from the beach in general.
The Shore-based Shark-Smart Fishing educational course and Shore-based Shark Fishing Permit are now available online. To take the educational course, which must be completed before getting the permit, visit www.MyFWC.com/SharkCourse.
The permit is 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.
Those under 16 are required to take the educational course unless they are fishing with an adult who already holds the permit. Persons under 16 are not required to get the permit.
The education and permit requirements also apply if you plan to fish from shore for any species of fish and will be:
• Fishing with a metal leader more than 4 feet long.
• Using a fighting belt/harness.
• Deploying bait by any means other than casting (kayaking for example) while using a hook that is 1.5 inches or larger at its widest inside distance.
Several other rule changes went into effect Monday, including:
• Prohibiting chumming when fishing for any species from the beach.
• Requiring immediate release of prohibited shark species when fishing from the shore and requiring anglers to cut the leader 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).
According to the FWC press release, these rules are intended to increase survival of released sharks, improve informationgathering from the fishery and address public safety concerns.
The changes were voted on and approved at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s February meeting, which was held in Gainesville.
For more information about shark fishing regulations, visit www.MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Sharks.” The FWC can also be reached by calling 850-488-4676.