An Open Letter On Ending Shark Fishing Tournaments

By Briar Lee Mitchell, EdD

I write this letter to you, in all hopes, that you will help end shark fishing competitions for extremely good reasons.

At tournaments sharks are slaughtered for prize money and bragging rights for the fisherman who kills the biggest animal. Each contest has between a few dozen to several hundred competitors and all reinforce the perception that it is acceptable to kill animals for enjoyment. Due to the high methyl-mercury content in shark flesh, the sharks aren’t edible and are tossed away at the close of a tournament.

On June 9th, 2019, a 1023 pound Tiger Shark was slaughtered, dragged to shore for ridiculous photos, then, dragged back out and left to rot in the ocean. Unbelievably stupid and criminal. What on earth is wrong with these people to do something so senseless and cruel?

There are about 70 shark tournaments annually on the East Coast of the US. Too often, endangered or at-risk species are caught and displayed then thrown away like trash in these tournaments. Truly, the days of imagining that the ocean has a never ending supply of fish is a myth. It is important that we stop these tournaments because they devalue ocean wildlife and harm marine conservation efforts.

Sharks have low reproductive rates, making them especially susceptible to overfishing. Many species targeted by shark fishing tournaments (including all Thresher sharks, Porbeagle and Makos, three of the most commonly targeted species) are already classified as vulnerable or threatened by international conservation organizations, meaning they should be protected, not killed, especially for recreation or competition.

These tournaments might have a handful of people to hundreds entered and their goal is to “land” the largest shark. This means that smaller “by-catch” may go unreported with reports of up to 16 discarded, per boat, like trash. There can be around 70,000 sharks slaughtered solely for the purposes of the competition.

In 2014, 226,000 sharks were killed from recreational fishing, with potentially more dying as a result of catch and release. Even though sharks may be caught and released, many die from the ordeal after they are thrown back into the water. In particular Threshers and Hammerheads show a high degree of mortality after being released.

These competitions are unacceptable! On June 15, 2019 endangered Mako, threatened Thresher and near threatened Blue Sharks were killed for ridiculous cash prizes at the Freeport Hudson Anglers Shark Tournament.

Fishing sharks for prize money is the absolute antithesis of respect for nature. Participants parade around their brutally slaughtered kill, often dragged backwards through the water to the dock, just to add more weight to the animal…whether it is alive or dead does not matter to them. They exploit nature however they see fit, regardless of the impact on the environment or the dreadful message that their behavior conveys, especially to young people whom you teach to hurt and abuse animals however you please.

For those gullible enough to believe that “catch and release” is a good thing…you get to have treating an animal brutally, then release it to live a nice life, but that isn’t want happens to them. Many die after being released. It is unfortunate that people want to believe that, but it is true. Hammerheads and Threshers are the most susceptible.

Please help to end this senseless killing. Once gone, these sharks will be gone for good and with all of the ecological nightmare disasters occurring nearly every day on this planet, our time is much better spent preserving our natural resources instead of slaughtering them for a ridiculous prize.

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Petition: End Shark Tournaments


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