Federal Shark Fishing Regulations

Permit and Gear Requirements

To fish for sharks in federal waters, anglers must obtain a Federal Highly Migratory Species Permit with a Shark Endorsement. This endorsement underscores the commitment to sustainable shark fishing practices. Key regulations include:

  • Mandatory landing of sharks with fins, head, and tail naturally attached, ensuring responsible handling and identification.
  • The use of rod & reel or handline is the only permitted method for recreational shark fishing, emphasizing traditional and less harmful fishing techniques.
  • The requirement for non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks, with exceptions for flies or artificial lures, aims to reduce mortality in catch and release fishing.

Shark Fishing Regulations Overview

  • For All Sharks: A universal bag limit exists, with specifics varying by species group. This approach balances the preservation of shark populations with recreational fishing opportunities.
  • Atlantic Sharpnose and Bonnethead Sharks: Allowed a catch limit of 1 per person per day, reflecting their status and abundance.
  • Group Restrictions for Larger Species: Includes Blacknose, Blacktip, Blue, Bull, and several others with a consolidated limit of 1 shark per vessel per day and a minimum size limit of 54 inches fork length (FL).
  • Hammerhead Sharks: Comprising Great, Scalloped, and Smooth Hammerhead Sharks, require a minimum size of 78 inches FL, acknowledging their vulnerability and ecological importance.
  • Prohibited Species: A significant list of sharks, including Atlantic Angel, Basking, and White Sharks among others, are entirely prohibited from being kept. This measure is critical for the conservation of species facing threats or with unknown population statuses.

Conservation Measures

  • Immediate release is mandated for prohibited species, with guidelines stressing the importance of doing so without removing the shark from the water to minimize stress and potential harm.
  • The clear delineation of size limits and bag limits for different shark categories is designed to support sustainable shark populations while allowing recreational anglers to participate in shark fishing within regulated bounds.

Accessing Regulations and Identification Guides

For the latest federal regulations and essential resources like shark identification guides, visiting the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) website at NMFS Sharks is recommended. These resources provide vital information for anglers to stay informed and compliant with current regulations.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.