Thursday, April 29, 2010

Left to die

Got the following two e-mail messages today.

I am sad to report that on Tuesday evening a pregnant Bull Shark was killed in the keys from beach shark fishing activities.
The fishermen were using two 16/0 "J" hooks to catch the animal. The animal was caught in the gills with the J hook and left to die on the beach. As you can see from the pictures, there were 12 pups ready to be born (6 male, 6 female). Very sad and wasteful.
This is a nightly occurrence!

Sadly we have a very similar report from Delray Beach today.
A pregnant Great Hammerhead washed up on shore in Delray a little before 2pm.

The Shark was hooked in the mouth with a large J Hook.
I don't know the specifics about the hook, but we have the hook and the line that was attached. A friend happened to be at the beach when this happened and called me. She said that the shark looked pregnant. Somebody asked me to bring a knife so that we could try to save the pups if they were still alive. There were 35 pups -- 21 male and 14 female -- all fully developed and ready to be born.
Unfortunately they were all dead already.

The measurements of the mother were 13 feet total length; 10 feet 4.5 inches fork length and 9 feet 8 inches pre-caudal.

This is another example of why female Sharks need to be protected in Florida, especially in Spring and Summer when the females come close to shore to give birth.
Sorry to have to share this sad news.

Are you as angry as me?

This may surprise you but I'm actually an avid game fisherman.
Being a Shark conservationist, I obviously don't target Sharks - but even as a "sportsman", or whatever, I personally believe that Shark fishing really sucks: they are way too easy to attract and catch, with the exception of Makos they put up a very poor fight, many end up being gut hooked and perish even when released - with land based fishing for Sharks being even worse since the big ones need to be completely subdued in order to be landed, meaning that many are likely to die of exhaustion.

But that's just my personal opinion which is certainly not shared by many game fishermen.
I must also acknowledge that there is a movement from within aimed at reforming Shark fishing by promoting less invasive methods like e.g. catch & release and circle hooks.
Pragmatically speaking, it's unfortunately the only way forward, at least in the short term - but I still don't like it and have thus refrained from promoting any Shark fishing and specifically, the new format of Shark tournaments, forward looking as they may be. Thing is, I'm still not convinced that they are not merely the brain child of some clever businessmen who want to establish, market and exploit a new business niche by pandering to the eco movement, as opposed to the genuine desire to reform the existing kill tournaments.
I would however be convinced if the net result would be a) existing kill tournaments being reformed, b) no new Shark fishing tournaments being established and c) less people game fishing for Sharks. Anybody taking bets?
Yes I'm digressing and as always, we will see!

But wherever you're coming from - this cannot be tolerated anymore!
This has catapulted the reputation of land based Shark fishing back to the stone age and confirmed all of the anti-fishing stereotypes.
If those people ever want to rid themselves of the stigma of being nothing more than primitive murderous yahoos, their associations will have to do much, much better. Let us see the immediate and unequivocal public condemnation of these shameful events; let us see them issue regulations aimed at ensuring that despicable shit like this will never happen again, coupled with sanctions against any transgressors.

As to the targeting of pregnant Sharks - how can anybody possibly justify that?
Do I really need to spell out the ethical implications and the value of mature breeding females for endangered stocks?

And yet, by its very own regulations, the IGFA still promotes this abomination.
All-tackle record Sharks will always be pregnant females and as long as those shameful records are being certified, game fishermen will continue to specifically target those animals. Can you imagine the reaction of the public and even, the hunting community if similar "feats" had been perpetrated by hunters?

All very sad, really.
My only hope is that those 49 dead Sharks will serve as ambassadors, like other dead Sharks have done in the past: for credible reform among the fishermen and their associations and failing that, for better legislation aiming at protecting those valuable animals when they are most vulnerable.

PS: also posted by Neil Hammerschlag here - read the shocking testimony of a beach cleaner in the comments section and yes, Shark fishing is illegal in Delray Beach.

Sun Sentinel article here.

PS2: great blog post by Mary here.

PS3 toothy comments on SDI's new blog!

1 comment:

Robert said...

Great articulation.
Sad day but maybe these tragedies and your sensible breakdown of the issues will help make a change for the betterment of the sharks in Florida and elsewhere.
We are dealing with passionate but uneducated hillbilly fishermen. They love to fish but most don't know how to and don't respect the animal. Obviously they don't know the laws either. But then the police officers in Delray Beach were unaware that shark fishing from the beach was illegal so enforcement was nonexistent.
these guys in the link below have broken numerous federal and local laws and don't seem to know or care.