The Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World is going to ban shark fishing from its municipal pier, located next to a restaurant named “Sharky’s.”
The irony is thick but this is the right thing for the city to do.
First, it’s important to note that this isn’t a done deal. The city attorney is drafting a ban on fishing for sharks from the pier and city’s beaches but with the Council’s summer break coming up it couldn’t go to the required second reading until the end of August at the earliest.
The Council had hoped to get input Tuesday from the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission but that won’t happen at least until September, so action on the ordinance could be deferred until then.
And, of course, the fishing community has yet to weigh in. Anglers made it clear during prior discussions about shark fishing that they were not in favor of any new restrictions, let alone a ban.
But they’re getting some anyway, courtesy of new state rules that go into effect July 1.
Most people who fish for sharks from shore — which includes piers — will need a specific license to do it and will have to take an online course to get one.
Chumming for any species will be prohibited. Only specific types of hooks will be allowed.
Most significant for the Council’s decision to move forward on a ban, if a prohibited shark species is caught it must remain in the water with its gills submerged and be released “without delay. If hook removal will delay release, cut the hook or the leader as close to the hook as possible.”
There are 27 prohibited species in Florida waters, including three species of hammerheads, and another eight that have size limits.
To release a shark caught at the end of the pier by removing the hook or cutting the hook or leader would mean walking all the way back to shore while keeping control of the fish in an area where there are people in and on the water, and turning it loose there.
The obvious alternative is just to cut the line, leaving the hook, leader and a length of line attached to the shark, contrary to the rule. The likelihood of getting caught is minimal, however.
We know that shark fishing has its fans. People come to Venice to participate in it or watch it. Landing a shark on the pier is a spectacle.
But it’s a spectacle that the state’s new rules make more dangerous for other people, we believe, which triggers the city’s authority to impose a ban in the interest of public safety. A number of cities already have one.
A ban wouldn’t be the end of the world. It would only apply to the pier and city beaches and wouldn’t affect shark fishing from a boat or any beach outside the city that’s not under a separate ban.
Fishing would still be allowed from the pier. Sharks’ teeth come from long-dead fish, so Venice could remain the Shark’s Tooth Capital and Sharky’s could stay Sharky’s.
If you oppose a ban, there’s a lot of time to lobby the Council to defeat it. Explain the impact not just on the people who like to fish for sharks but also on the businesses those people patronize.
Most important, offer an alternative to a complete ban.
Council Member Bob Daniels said that by allowing fishing for sharks around people the city is “waiting for an accident to happen” and several of his colleagues were of like mind. They’re not going to reject a ban if the only option is the status quo
An editorial from the Venice Gondolier Sun.