JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is gathering public input on shore-based shark fishing. Everyone is invited to share your thoughts on the future management of this fishery by attending a public workshop.
One of the workshops will be held locally, at Jacksonville University on August 21st at 6 p.m. in the J. Henry Gooding Building – Swisher Auditorium.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in April directed staff to craft new rules for the fishing practice amid growing demands to restrict or ban shark fishing from beaches, piers and bridges from certain groups.
Those possible regulations include: requiring permits for anglers, limiting or even prohibiting chumming, isolating shore-based shark fishing to certain areas or times along with requiring additional release gear for shark fishers.
Some theories suggest that shore-based shark fishing attracts sharks already near land to feed in areas that often have low visibility. Other theories suggest the sharks are always present along our shoreline, but catching one makes the shark visible.
News4Jax spoke with several people at Jacksonville Beach about the necessity of stricter regulations.
"I think what would help," said Kenneth Plez, a local fisherman.
"Yes, I don't want a shark close to the shore, to be honest with you. I think it's a little dangerous for the beaches," added Dmitriy Lapidus, another local fisherman.
But one surfer believes that new rules wouldn't make him feel safer. "It's just kind of part of being a surfer, you know they are out there. It's their home. I just try to avoid and try not to worry about them," said Hunter Rolland.
News4Jax also checked with shark expert Jim Gelsleichter, an associate professor of biology at the University of North Florida.
"Associating land-based fishers with a so-called increase in shark-bites doesn't necessarily ring true," said Gelsleichter.
Gelsleichter also says the general shark population off of our coast is not endangered, and he believes the suggestion of tighter rules, isn't reaction to new research about the sharks and those who fish for them. But it's likely due to the uptick in captures recorded on video that are eventually viewed on social media.
"Everybody has their iPhone, everybody is taking pictures and the events where somebody might catch a shark on the beach or when somebody gets bitten are really amplified," said Gelsleichter.
Workshops start at 6 p.m. local time:
- Aug. 6: Panama City, Gulf Coast State College, The Russell C. Holley and Herbert P. Holley Language and Literature Building, Sarzin Lecture Hall, 5230 W. U.S. Highway 98.
- Aug. 7: Pensacola, Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Resource Center – Parks & Recreation Department, 913 S. I St.
- Aug. 20: South Daytona, Piggotte Community Center, Reception Hall Room, 504 Big Tree Road.
- Aug. 21: Jacksonville, Jacksonville University, J. Henry Gooding Building – Swisher Auditorium, 2800 University Blvd. N.
- Aug. 27: Melbourne Beach, Melbourne Beach Community Center, 509 Ocean Ave.
- Aug. 28: West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Department of Planning, Zoning & Building – The Vista Center, 2300 N. Jog Road.
- Aug. 29: Miami, Miami City Hall – Commission Main Chambers, 3500 Pan American Drive.
- Aug. 30: Key Colony Beach, City Hall, 600 W. Ocean Drive.
If you cannot attend an in-person meeting, submit comments online by clicking here . Staff is working on an advance copy of the presentation and a virtual workshop that should be available online in the near future.
Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.