Tighter Shark Regs Proposed For Georgia

Circle hooks would be required for all shark species. Public comment period ends Jan. 31, 2020.

CRD Press Release | December 5, 2019

The Coastal Resources Division of DNR on Wednesday asked the state Board of Natural Resources to require anglers to use non-offset, corrodible, non-stainless-steel circle hooks when fishing for all species of sharks in state waters, except when using flies or artificial lures.

This circle-hook regulation is in addition to requests made in September that the board prohibit the harvest of Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) less than 83 inches fork length, regardless of sex, and to completely prohibit the harvest of Oceanic Whitetip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus).

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposals beginning today, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, through Jan. 31, 2020. Comments may be emailed to [email protected], or mailed to Coastal Resources Division, Atten: Carolyn Belcher, One Conservation Way, Brunswick, GA 31520.

This additional circle-hook request comes after the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) passed an amendment on Oct. 30, 2019, requiring the use of such hooks in member states. The ASMFC requires state implementation of this rule by July 1, 2020.

Circle hooks are more likely to lodge in the corner of the jaw, making removal of the hook easier. Circle hooks reduce the chances of gut or foul hooking of the shark and increase chances of shark survival. Also, hooks made of corrodible material, rather than stainless steel, rust away faster in the event the hook cannot be removed from the shark.

The previously requested change to prohibit the harvest of Shortfin Mako Sharks less than 83 inches is required for Georgia to remain in compliance with the ASMFC Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coastal Sharks. Georgia is a member of the commission, which seeks to coordinate interstate management of more than two dozen species of fish and crustaceans in waters along the Atlantic Seaboard.

The ASMFC approved the change to Shortfin Mako Sharks on May 1, 2019 (Learn more here). Although the ASFMC’s Coastal Sharks Management Board approved a smaller limit of 71 inches fork length for males along with the 83 fork length minimum for females, Georgia DNR’s Coastal Resources Division is recommending a more conservative approach for Shortfin Mako Sharks by setting the harvestable size to individuals greater than 83 inches, regardless of sex.

Mako sharks caught in Georgia waters will have a minimum fork length of 83 inches if new regs are passed.

“We know from experience Georgia’s anglers are concerned about conservation,” said Carolyn Belcher, chief of Coastal Resources Division’s Marine Fisheries Section. “We also know identifying whether such a large fish is male or female can be dangerous, so we wanted the process to be as simple and safe as possible for Georgia’s saltwater anglers.”

Coastal Resources Division also considered the rarity with which Shortfin Make Sharks are seen in Georgia’s waters when recommending the 83 inch minimum for both sexes.

Additionally, the Coastal Resources Division is seeking to completely prohibit the harvest of Oceanic Whitetip Shark, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries office listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act on Jan. 20, 2018. Although Oceanic Whitetip Shark do not live in Georgia’s waters, prohibiting their possession would restrict shark fishermen from landing this species in Georgia.

Following the comment period, the Board of Natural Resources will consider the proposed rule changes at a DNR Board meeting at the A.W. Jones Heritage Center, 610 Beachview Drive, St. Simons Island, GA 31522. If approved, the new regulation would go into effect July 1, 2020.

Learn more about Shortfin Mako Sharks here.

Learn more about Oceanic Whitetip Sharks here.

Learn best-practice technique tips for handling sharks here.

Learn more about the management of coastal sharks here:

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