Florida Shark Fishing Laws & Regulations
The tropical waters of Florida are home to an immensely diverse group of sea creatures. Some of the most feared and notorious of these are the sharks that inhabit the Atlantic. There are many different species of sharks that migrate around Florida waters, and it is important to be educated about them. Aside from obvious safety reasons, learning about sharks is necessary to avoid civil and criminal liability. For those who enjoy shark fishing, the failure to follow Florida Fish and Wildlife Rules and Regulations could result in a citation or criminal charge. Below are some of the most common laws regarding shark fishing.
Florida Shore Based Shark Fishing – Gear Requirements
Did you know that multiple hooks are prohibited for shark fishing in Florida? This means any hook with two or more points are forbidden; only single hooks and line can be used.
You are able to use bait that is alive or dead; however, chumming is not allowed from the beach or any recreational areas. Chumming is using ground, bloody fish bait for the purpose of luring sharks or larger fish species.
Similar to the rules for other species of fish, sharks must remain in whole condition. Heads, tails and fins must be attached until landed. Failure to keep a shark in whole condition is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Florida Shark Bag Limit
Daily bag limit refers to the number of sharks you are allowed to harvest and possess per day.
The daily bag limit for sharks is restricted to one (1) shark per person per day.
The vessel limit – the limit per boat or ship – is two (2) sharks. The maximum number of sharks that can be retained on a boat, regardless of size, is two, even if there are more people or anglers on board.
Harvestable Sharks and Size Limits
The harvestable shark species include fourteen (14) species that are divided into 3 different groups depending on size limits.
The first group of sharks have no minimum size limit, and it includes the Atlantic Sharp Nose, Black Nose, Black Tip, Bonnet Head, Fine Tooth, Smooth Dogfish and Florida Smooth-hounds.
The second group of shark species have a size limit of fifty-four (54) inches minimum length. This group includes the Bull, Nurse, Spinner, Blue, Oceanic White Tip, and the Thresher sharks. Remember that this limit is for fork length only. This means the length of the tail is not counted toward the official measurement of the shark. Failure to take this into consideration is a costly mistake that can result in a criminal citation.
The third group only consists of 1 shark – the Short Fin Mako – and its minimum length for harvesting is 83 inches.
New Florida Fish and Wildlife Law
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) continues to monitor and adjust laws for the wellbeing of both people and sharks. Sharks are infinitely important to the ecosystem. Accordingly, many species of shark are currently prohibited from harvest, possession or landing in Florida waters. As of July 1, 2020, prohibited shark species must be released without delay, and the sharks’ gills are to remain in the water during the release. If the angler cannot get in the water to complete the task, he or she must at least cut the line to release the shark. The prohibited shark species list has almost 30 different sharks on it. Some of the more well-known on the prohibited list include Hammerheads, the Tiger Shark and the Whale Shark.
Florida Shark Fishing Permit
Additionally, as of July 1, 2020, Florida Fish and Wildlife are now requiring a shore-based shark fishing permit. The permit includes a course that is taken online and must be renewed annually. The no-cost permit is for those aged 16 years and older, including those who over 65 (who are normally exempt from fishing license requirements). The permit is an educational course with a quiz at the end. This permit is meant to keep both people and sharks safe.
Contact our Fish and Wildlife Defense Law Firm
In the excitement and adrenaline rush of shark fishing, you may have forgotten some Florida Fish and Wildlife laws. Alternatively, a Fish and Wildlife officer may have erroneously charged you with an FWC offense. Regardless of how you received a citation or criminal charge involving shark violations, contact Casanova Law today. Founding Attorney Lourdes Casanova is a criminal defense attorney in Palm Beach County experienced in defending clients against Fish and Wildlife violations.
Remember that an FWC “ticket” can function as an arresting document and should be taken seriously. Let us fight on your behalf. Our goal is to get your case dismissed.
Call us at (561) 236-5340, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org