Gray Laws on White Sharks

#2
A well written article but it's too bad the author will never get those two hours of his life back. Why? Because he all but insisted (between the lines) that if you "cannot NOT" target GWS, then all fishing activity that could hook one should be outlawed. He could have just said that ;)
 

EgoNonBaptizo

Well-known member
#3
The main issue with some of these arguments is the outlawing of heavy gear (50 wide reels, stand up tackle, cable leaders, etc.). The reason why shark anglers use such heavy tackle is to prevent further harm to the animal. A juvenile 5-6 foot white or even a fully grown sevengill is easily handled on this kind of tackle, allowing for either a quick cut of the line once within sighting range or (IMO a better option), while still keeping the shark in the water, unhooking it or cutting the hook with bolt cutters. This is the case on the east coast, where land based shark fishing (LBSF) is more common. Additionally, most hooks and finbaits that are cited as "excessively large" are still within the range of the very largest bat rays, and adult sevengill and soupfin, with the large size preventing unwanted bites from smaller fish, as resetting repeatedly is tedious task on the heavy tackle that is required for safe releases. Many kayak drops are within the upper range of casting distance achievable using a surf rod, while longer drops are meant to place baits in areas otherwise inaccessible from shore as opposed to resorting to unsafe pier releases. Additionally, this heavy tackle prevents breakoffs/spooling which lead to sharks swimming around with several feet of wire cable and potentially dozens of yards of line, which has the potential to cause severe bodily harm.

Of course there is the issue of geographic location when it comes to targeting sharks. Many studies show that juvenile GWS like to stay around the same general area: (https://www.researchgate.net/public...Carcharodon_carcharias_in_the_eastern_Pacific a little outdated [2007] but still an interesting read), which makes them vulnerable to fishing pressure. Another factor to consider is their diets. What is particularly interesting is that these young sharks often feed in benthic environments, feeding on rays and smaller sharks such as soupfin and sevengill. Thus it is no coincidence that many of these captures are made in areas conducive to fishing for other shark species. Even then, this is where the real issue is with LBSF. It is clear that some people scout out these locations in order to deliberately target whites using cartilaginous bait (chunks of bat ray, smaller shark carcasses, etc [granted sevengills also like this kind of bait]).

However, a clear shift in LBSF is CA is visible. Instead of using relatively light tackle (long surf rods, conventional or spinning tackle, 40-50 lb mainline) to tire out large sharks and increase the chance of mortality, people have begun to kayak out large baits on very heavy tackle to minimize fight times for the sake of both fish and angler. Additionally, this past year, several captures have been made that show that fishing in this manner doesn't necessarily entail targeting whites. Multiple thresher sharks (including one large 12ft+ individual) have been landed using kayaked baits, while a couple makos have also been landed in the same way. Thanks to the heavy tackle, all but one of these sharks have been released, with minimal line damage. Of course the question of why people target sharks as a whole still remains. For many, nearshore sharks present an opportunity at big game fishing that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. That leads to the question of if people should be big game fishing at all, as these large animals are essential parts of an ecosystem. That is a debate for another day.

TL;DR: heavy gear is better for sharks and anglers, whites like to eat other sharks so they are in the same area, though there are ways to target exclusively whites, and there is some truth behind the bycatch claim.

Thanks for listening to my TED talk.
 
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Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#4
I know there are number of anglers who specifically target great whites (including a couple I met at the San Clemente Pier). The Fish and Wildlife also knew they were targeting great whites but I don't know if they were ever prosecuted or convicted.
 

EgoNonBaptizo

Well-known member
#5
Are these people actually saying verbatim they are white fishing? If so, that shows the sad state of DFG and its inability to enforce rules.
 

EgoNonBaptizo

Well-known member
#7
That is really unfortunate. I know several people who have caught and released multiple whites and at least in their case they made it clear that there was no intentional targeting (“light” cable [90-150#], relatively small (7/0-10/0 hooks), mackerel baits, floats, etc). To see that people have taken that opportunity and run with it shows much of the negative side of social media coverage.

Speaking of social media:
Several individuals and organizations have taken to defamation and threats against California anglers (in specific sharkers [even more specifically Spencer]) on social media due to this article. As is often the case, emotional attachment to charismatic megafauna and issues surrounding them trumps reason. As it stands, things are only looking to get worse.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#8
Personal attack and even threats seem today to be an almost natural byproduct of social media when combined with views of people that often (if not usually) have a limited understanding of what can be complex issues. We had some wild, knock em down debates in the early days of PFIC but it was peaceful. Then again it was a different world.