Florida Shark Workshop Report

Posted on July 1, 2011
Written by: Shark Savers

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Workshop Report

The FWC workshops were intended to gather public comments on two topics: (1) adding large coastal shark species to the Prohibited Species List (tiger sharks and Hammerhead sharks); and (2) possible gear requirement changes and regulatory changes that would improve post-release survival with catch and release sport fishing and unintended commercial catches. Shark Savers provided advance notice as well as talking points in Protect Florida's Hammerhead and Tiger Sharks, which helped increase workshop turnout and garner support for protecting Florida's sharks.

There is one remaining phone conference scheduled for July 7, 2011 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. EDT (5:00-7:00 p.m. CDT). Note that you can access this workshop with a voice line only. Please RSVP at 850-487-0554 to obtain instructions to join the meeting.

Thanks to all of you who were unable to attend the workshops, but who sent emails and wrote letters supporting the new protections. Here's our update on what happened at the workshops.

Dania Beach

Shark Savers attended the Dania Beach workshop, which had the highest attendance with more than 70 people, including fishermen, boaters, shark scientists, students, activists, and concerned citizens. There was broad support for increasing protection for Florida's sharks across all of these constituencies, which was very inspiring. Everyone left with a feeling of camaraderie and hope for the future.

One of the concerns raised included the need to educate shore fishermen about best practices during the spring pupping season to avoid landing pregnant sharks. The need for parallel state and federal regulations was raised, which would broaden the protection tiger sharks and hammerheads as well as other protected sharks such as lemon sharks. The fact that federal regulations are not in sync with state protections represents a major loophole in fully protecting these species.

Other Workshops

The other workshops had smaller numbers of attendees, but the reports we received indicated that most everyone is in favor of increasing protections for hammerhead and tiger sharks in Florida waters. Shark Savers thanks all of those who showed up and took a stand for shark conservation. Only one person showed up in St. Augustine and he provided strong testimony in support of the new regulations--proving that one person can make a difference!

What's Next?

FWC analysts will prepare a recommendation to the FWC Commissioners based on the input they have received from the public. Their recommendations will be presented at the next Commission meetings, which are scheduled for September 7-9 in Naples, FL. At that time there will be an opportunity for additional public testimony. The Commission may decide to vote on the shark protection proposals at that time, or they may elect to schedule a vote for the November 16-17 Commission meetings in Key Largo.

What Can You Do?

Join Shark Savers in continuing to write the FWC in support of these new protections. See our blog post announcing the workshops Help Protect Florida's Hammerhead and Tiger Sharks for more information and talking points.

Continue to send emails to: Commissioners@MyFWC.com

Email scientific and observational data to: Aaron.Podey@MyFWC.com

Please copy your emailed comments to us at savefloridasharks@sharksavers.org

Send mail-in comments to:

Kathleen Hampton
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
620 South Meridian Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600

Thanks

Shark Savers thanks all those who attended the workshops and wrote emails. The workshops went well, but we still have a ways to go before Florida's sharks are protected. Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

fwc_01.jpg