Florida bans shore-based ‘chum’ fishing for sharks

Shore-based anglers will no longer be able to use fish parts, bones and blood to attract sharks, as critics of shark fishing would like to see lines cast farther away from beachgoers.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, meeting Wednesday in Gainesville, approved several shore-based shark fishing changes that will go into effect July 1.

The rules include the restriction on “chumming” with fish parts, bones and blood; requiring the immediate release of any sharks that are on a state prohibited list; and requiring that anyone who casts for sharks from land, bridges or jetties get a no-cost permit that includes taking an online educational program.

Commissioner Joshua Kellam, who said he watched as a nurse shark was reeled in among a crowd in Juno Beach over the weekend, considers the changes a work in progress.

“Are we going to pass the best thing that solves all the answers? No,” said Kellam, of Palm Beach Gardens. “But are we setting the baseline to start now looking at this and addressing this down the road? Yes, I think we are.”

Commissioners want to address issues such as setting a hook size that would differentiate shark fishing from other shore-based angling. Staff members also proposed allowing people younger than 16 to be exempt from the permitting requirement, but Commissioner Gary Nicklaus of Jupiter questioned the need for an exemption.

“It’s a no-cost permit,” Nicklaus said. “They don’t have the ability, I guess through our permit system, to get a permit, but they can get the validation that they have done the education course.”

The chumming issue has drawn widespread attention. Chumming can continue from a boat or pier.

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