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Florida Bans Chumming, Requires Permit for Shark-Fishing

Lucas Suarez, PIRO-NOAA

People who fish for sharks in Florida will soon have to get a special permit. State wildlife officials are also banning chumming from shore, which involves dropping fish parts and blood into the water to attract sharks.

The changes to fishing from beaches and piers were made after a series of public meetings, held statewide over the past several months.

"There were a lot of people that were concerned about the act of chumming from shore, and that have said that they have seen people chumming from shore for sharks," said Amanda Nalley, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Many people who fish for sharks, however, say they don't chum because the practice simply doesn't work.

During the sometimes-heated meetings, a variety of opinions were voiced about the activity.

Some people worried that fishing for sharks could make it unsafe for swimmers.

Others said they were concerned about the risk of killing endangered sharks.

Still others wanted to protect what they described as a fun hobby.

The commission ended up requiring people to take an online quiz in order to obtain a permit-- something that could ease concerns.

"The educational component is something everybody wanted to see," said Nalley.

The new rules require the immediate release of any shark that’s on a list of 26 protected species, including hammerheads, lemon sharks and whale sharks.

Anglers must also use non-stainless circle hooks, which are less likely to harm sharks.

The permit is free, and will be mandatory for those 16 and older beginning July 1.

The online course is not yet available, but should be in the coming months, Nalley said.

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Kerry Sheridan is a reporter and co-host of All Things Considered at WUSF Public Media.