Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sarasota kill shark tournament still alive

I read with interest Ed Mauer's commentary about the Sarasota Shark Tournament in Florida Fly Fishing Magazine. I understand his feelings.
I wrote a similar piece for publication about two years ago.
It's unfathomable there's still a kill shark tournament being conducted. It's even more amazing that it takes place in upscale Sarasota. And it's deplorable that seemingly no one cares.
Shark tournaments disappeared from the scene in the mid-1980s when shark anglers figured out there was nothing positive resulting from their efforts. One Sarasota sharker, Terry Copeland, was sickened after a huge shark he caught gave birth posthumously on the dock at Hart's Landing.
"A total waste," Copeland remembered saying at the time.
That was the last time the Sarasota antique furniture restorer killed shark.
Sharks, according to Dr. Robert Hueter of Mote Marine Laboratory, have been in serious trouble for the last 2o years because of overfishing. At the height of the tournament rage and because of commercial fishing, they were being harvested faster than they could reproduce. Some sharks were caught, had their fins removed and dumped back into the sea to die. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in the Orient, and fins brought big money.
The fishery teetered on the brink of collapse.
The shark population received a boost when most shark anglers realized they were part of the problem and ended the competitions. Shark tournaments still existed, but with release formats.
Three years ago, one resurfaced locally when the Sarasota tournament was born. What's ironic is that the event was sponsored early on by businesses run by sportsmen involved in the Coastal Conservation Association Florida. In fact, one was a former state CCA board member and past president of the Sarasota Chapter of CCA. That person was questioned about sponsoring the event, but chose not to withdraw sponsorship at the time (the business did not sponsor the last event).
What was even more frustrating is the local newspaper and its TV partner chose to glorify the event through photographs and coverage. Despite numerous columns and stories over the years spotlighting problems with the shark fishery, the paper and TV station chose to ignore and glorify. Either editors there didn't read the columns or didn't believe them.
Or maybe it was simply an opportunity to sell newspapers?
Crowds gathered a weigh-ins held at Island Park near Marina Jack where dead, fly-covered sharks would be hung for the blood-thirsty crowd to ogle as the chest-thumping anglers absorbed the admiration.
All was justified, however, because, according to tournament organizers, all of the rotting meat was donated to needy people.
Let's see if I've got this straight: It's OK for me to kill a shark or a deer or a beer or a squirrel as long as I give it to another person to eat?
What is even further disgusting is that some of the competitors caught, killed and used tarpon, a great and protected Florida gamefish, for shark bait. Anglers may catch, keep and kill a tarpon as long as they have a special $50 tag from the state.
Here's betting the tournament will hold its fourth annual kill clash next year. The local paper doesn't seem to care. Nor does its TV companion.
But what's even more sad is that most Sarasotans or Floridians don't seem to care.


  1. There are two tournaments a year still held in Port Charlotte at Fishin Franks that are kill tournaments for Shark, Stingray, and Sailcat which have payouts for the same type format and under the same premise of donating the meat to needy people. I am dead set against this type of tournament and hope that the anglers and those that continue to sponsor this type tournament would go to a photo release format and end this practice. Maybe it's just that the are ignorant and hopefully not stupid as to their methods. I hope it is the former and not the later. As the popular comedian Ron White has stated, "You can't fix stupid"!

  2. Capt. Angel Torres but hey I feel like every body is out to do better for the world, but in better words we should all just stop fishing all together. Cause hey I fish franks tournament frank hold his after the sharks have pup out . and he will not hold a shark tournament while the sharks haven't spawn. Also on top of that the shark have to be ice down . And alot of people are there to do studys on them as well. But hey this is the said side of this story cause alot of people point fingers . Hey me for my self and my trips have hook 100's of shark over the summer time and if I do take A Shark Or a few from those 100's then its no diff from when I take the 2 snook a year and the 2 red's I take a year home for my self.But I also know that on my charters I my self try my hardest to protect the fish That I make a liveing on.And thats why I take what I do. So I feel that this whole fishing thing just suck's Now don't get me wrong if I knew that the shark or any fish That I took was going to waste then they won't be coming home . And I don't need any body telling me that I cant take some thing home. When just alone this year I my self have hook a easy 20 to 50 keeper snook and lost count on the reds this year and season, That I could have tooken home should have I cause the law says I can . Come on guys. Sould I get mad cause you may have keap every fish that you have .If you keep any.So am I stupid for letting go all the fish that I have , or would I be stupid if I took every thing I could.