VIA – SUN SENTINEL
By David Fleshler
6:50 a.m. EDT, September 9, 2011
The state wildlife commission approved a ban on the killing of tiger sharks and three species of hammerhead Thursday to protect predators that have suffered severe overfishing.
The four shark species won protection at a meeting in Naples of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which voted to prohibit the killing of tiger sharks, great hammerheads, scalloped hammerheads and smooth hammerheads. Catch and release fishing will still be permitted.
Sharks have undergone a severe worldwide decline over the past 20 years or so to serve the demand in China and other East Asian countries for shark fin soup, a delicacy that has generated a lucrative market for their fins.
Florida has long been a leader in the protection of sharks, enforcing a one-shark-per-person, two-sharks-per-vessel daily bag limit and protecting about two dozen rare shark species. The state also passed an early ban on shark finning, a practice now illegal in U.S. waters in which the valuable fins are cut from the living shark, which is tossed back into the ocean to die.
“Florida has been recognized as a pioneer and a leader in shark management efforts for nearly 20 years,” said the wildlife commission’s chairwoman Kathy Barco, in a written statement. “We recognize that maintaining healthy shark populations is critical to the sustainability of our marine ecosystem. The additional protections we are proposing would help preserve Florida’s valuable marine resources.”
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