FLORIDA - OneProtest, a Jacksonville based animal advocacy organization, is launching a Shark Watch Program to coincide with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's implementation of strict new rules and regulations regarding shore-based shark fishing.
A citizen’s initiative that mirrors neighborhood watches, this program will be rolled out on July 1 to keep Florida’s beachgoers aware of where shore-based shark fishing is occurring.
It is also designed to help protect sharks from wildlife harassment and illegal fishing practices.
The Shark Watch program is calling on the community to monitor and report illegal activity to the Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) law enforcement.
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The permit is required for anyone 16 and older, including those 65 and older who are normally exempt from needing a fishing license, according to FWC.
The FWC said that 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.
Other regulation changes that go into effect July 1 include the following:
- 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).
"These rules are intended to increase survival of released sharks, improve information-gathering from the fishery and address public safety concerns," an FWC official said.
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