SHARK FISHING REGULATIONS
NEW SHORE-BASED REGULATIONS IN EFFECT
by Paul MacInnis
New shore-based shark fishing regulations took effect in Florida on July 1, 2019.
Big Changes Are Here As of July 1 2019
BJ Taylor of Southern Bred Fishing Charters tipped me off on new fishing regulations that took effect Monday. This is probably the biggest regulatory change I’ve seen in my 30 plus years of fishing the Space Coast. If you like to dabble in beach shark fishing, like Taylor and I, then these new fishing regulations impact you.
The biggest change is the no-cost, annual Shore-based Shark Fishing Permit that is required if you fish for sharks from shore or any structure attached to the shore. To get the permit you must take the Shore-based Shark-Smart Fishing educational course that you can access at MyFWC.com/SharkCourse.
Completing the Course
The course consists of four videos and a quiz. You must get all the questions correct on the quiz to pass the course and earn a Shore-based Shark-Smart Fishing Certificate. Don’t worry, if you get a question wrong, you are allowed to re-take the quiz.
Once you get the certificate there is yet another step you need to take in order to get your permit. Your certificate will include a unique identification code. Once you have the code you log into the FWC’s hunting and fishing license website (GoOutdoors.com) and click “Purchase a License.” From there, navigate to the Shore-based Shark Fishing Permit and click “Add to Cart.” You will then be prompted to type in your unique identification code. Upon completing this, you finally get your Shore-based Shark Fishing Permit. It will be added as an extra item on your fishing license, and yes, you will have to print out a new copy of your license. It took me about half an our to complete the class and get my permit, and the whole process is free.
BJ Taylor of Southern Bred Fishing Charters lands a shark on the beach.
Wait… but, Why?
Why the class and permit? Because there are a bunch of new shark fishing regulations, not just for shore bound anglers but also those in boats. For one, all bait fishing for sharks, whether from boat or shore, must be done with non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks. Another is you must have a pair of bolt or cable cutters with you that are capable of cutting the hook and/or the leader.
Why do you need cutters? The new regulations say that unless you are harvesting your one shark per day limit, all sharks must remain in the water. If you can’t quickly remove the hook then you must cut the hook or cut the leader as close as safely possible to the hook.
My Take on the Shark Fishing Regulations
Overall, I like the new regulations. I enjoy catching sharks so I am all for doing more to protect these fish. For a first cut this is a pretty good set of rules, although I think there is room for improvement. For one, it seems like these rules are written specifically for anglers using heavy conventional tackle to target monster sharks. There is a big difference between catching three foot bonnetheads and three hundred pound bull sharks. I’d like to see a different set of handling requirements for small sharks versus large ones, much like the regulations that are already in place for species like tarpon and goliath grouper.
I also notice that these new regulations really hurt folks like BJ Taylor who run beach shark fishing charters. “I think it will affect business dearly,” says Taylor. “Most potential clients will not want to take a course if they will only be in Florida for a week or two.” It would be nice if the FWC enacted a pay to fish permit that allows guides like Taylor to cover the permitting needs of their clients.
Bottom line, if you want to shark fish from our beautiful beaches (or piers or jetties) then you need to log into the FWC website, take the class and get your permit. If you would like try shark fishing under the guidance of an expert, give Taylor a call at (386) 216-8025, or look up Southern Bred Fishing Charters on Facebook.