NAPLES, Fla. — Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissioners are expected to vote February 20 on whether to adopt a new regulation that could change the way people fish for sharks in the state. The rule would prohibit protected sharks, such as lemon and tiger sharks, from being dragged onto beaches by anglers.
Some marine researchers argue that landing the big fish on shore - and on boats - damages their internal organs, and that sharks often die after being released by well-meaning anglers.
"I think it's a great idea," said John Brossard, who has caught sharks for over a decade - both from shore and from his boat Shark Chaser.
"Really, you don't need to land the fish if you're going to take a picture," he added. "Pictures look better in the water anyway."
Brossard said he has seen a decline in the populations of hammerhead and tiger sharks in Southwest Florida's Gulf waters. He said that he once even experienced a shark wash up on shore after he tagged and released it.
"Now, whether it was because I put it on the boat and it damaged its organs, or it was gut-hooked, I'm not sure," Brossard said. "But it did die the next day."
He recommends anglers have one or two people hold a shark in shallow water while another removes the hook.
"You just have to be careful how you handle it so you don't get bit," he said. "They don't just sit there and play dead. It's a good idea to hold the dorsal fin up, because if you're next to it, they can't turn around and bite you."