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Landshark landscape edging. The problem is that there’s been no research on the efficacy of anti-shark programs for shore-based fisheries.
To date, three studies that included control and treatment areas have been done and two involved beachfront control. The best-designed study to date (published in 2008) was conducted in the Galapagos Islands and involved the removal of sharks and ray protection. After shark removal, fish catch dropped dramatically in the treatment area but showed no significant changes in catch in the control area.
Landsharks and shore-based fisheries
The other research was a small study of a small area on Shark Beach in St. Johns (see sidebar). The study looked at the impacts of sharks on sea turtles, a threatened species, by keeping the big sharks away from nests. The researchers found that the number of sea turtle nests on the beach dropped when sharks were removed.
“The shark-control program is something the government has taken very seriously,” said St. Augustine Beach and Turtle Lagoon Coalition director Lisa Gartrell, who has worked in the area for more than a decade. “It’s not about the money, it’s about protecting turtles.”
The third study looked at shark removal in a commercial shark fishery. The researchers concluded that, in that setting, shark removal improved the fish catch. It was a small study that didn’t look at control sites.
As part of the commercial fishing study, the researchers looked at what was happening to a protected species of spiny dogfish that lives around the commercial fishing area. The researchers concluded that removing the sharks from the area caused the dogfish population to increase.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is starting a study of shore-based fisheries, but it isn’t yet at the point of determining what the program will look like.
“We’re looking to do this at the request of commercial fishermen,” explained Commission spokesperson Gary Morse. The program would examine the impact of different management practices on the catch.
St. Augustine, a popular spot for fishermen from as far away as New England, has seen its shark population drop from about 80 piscivores in the mid-1980s to about 18. That’s a steep decline from its peak of about 80 piscivores in the 1970s, and the first time it has fallen below 20.
But some commercial fishermen and environmentalists disagree on what should be done about the sharks.
Commercial fishermen “are not interested in killing sharks,” Gartrell said. “But we can’t put them in our stomach.”
The environmentalists want to work with the fishermen to preserve the sea turtles and spiny dogfish, and they feel strongly that sharks are doing the environment a favor by keeping the population of large sea turtles like loggerheads under control.
One big issue is that commercial fishermen in the state’s shark-fishing waters are not allowed to eat any shark caught, including its liver and fins. Gartrell wants to work with the fishermen to preserve the sharks — not eat them.
“They’re a wonderful fish to be involved in,” Gartrell said. “It’s one of the most important things we have in Florida.”
But, for now, piscivorous sharks are being killed in the nets. It takes too long to catch and debone them, so the commercial fishermen — who fish both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico — are turning to their nets to catch the smaller sharks.
That means the nets are catching other sea creatures like spiny dogfish. It’s why Gartrell said the commercial fishermen and the environmentalists are not in agreement.
At the same time, one of the reasons sharks have declined in the bay is that there are too many fishermen out there, said Chris Wilcox, an educator with Reef Environmental Education Foundation.
“We’re going to have a situation of diminishing returns,” he said. “The bottom line is that there are too many people working this bay. And we’ve got to have a plan to mitigate the overfishing.”
Wilcox said the fishermen need to know what fish are already in the bay and how many fish can be taken. They also need to know the boundaries of their own territory, he said.
If there are overfished fish, Wilcox said, then the fishermen should work with local commercial fishers to catch those fish before commercial shark fishing.
“We’ve got to be really smart about this,” Wilcox said. “We’ve got to start learning how to fish the bay and not overfish it.”
Gartrell says he agrees with Wilcox and that people are not realizing how many fish are in the bay.
“That’s why we’re doing this study,” he said. “It’s all good. Everybody’s making a living out of it.
"ਇਸ ਨਾਲ ਕੰਮ ਕਰਨ ਦਾ ਇਕੋ ਇਕ ਤਰੀਕਾ ਹੈ" ਗਾਰਟਰੀਲ ਨੇ ਕਿਹਾ.
ਉਸਨੇ ਇਹ ਵੀ ਕਿਹਾ ਕਿ ਉਸਨੇ ਹਾਲ ਹੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਸ਼ਾਰਕ ਵਿੱਚ ਵਾਧਾ ਦੇਖਿਆ ਹੈ, ਖ਼ਾਸਕਰ ਚੱਟਾਨ ਦੀ ਗਰਦਨ ਵਿੱਚ ਬੀਚ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਹਰ.
ਗਾਰਟਲੈਲ ਨੇ ਕਿਹਾ, "ਸਾਡੇ ਕੋਲ ਪਿਛਲੇ ਦੋ ਹਫ਼ਤਿਆਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਬੀਚ ਤੋਂ ਕੁਝ ਵੱਡੇ ਸ਼ਾਰਕ ਹਨ. "ਸ਼ਾਰਕ ਦਾਣਾ ਦੇ ਉੱਚ ਪੱਧਰੀ ਦੇ ਕਾਰਨ ਕਿਨਾਰੇ ਦੇ ਨੇੜੇ ਆ ਰਹੇ ਹਨ."