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Illegal Shark Fishing an Increasing Problem for Delaware

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Wildlife officials in Delaware face increasing problems with illegal shark fishing.

Between July 7 and 12, four different anglers were cited for violations ranging from possession of prohibited species to removing and landing a prohibited species from the water.

The growing interest in shark fishing is enough for wildlife officials to take notice and remind the public about what is and is not allowed.

“Before casting their lines, anglers fishing for sharks in Delaware waters need to review species that may be legally caught and retained there,” said Fish and Wildlife Natural Resources Police Cpl. John McDerby.

The fines for the people involved in the four most recent violations ranged from $200 to $700. The most common species in the state include smooth dogfish, spiny dogfish, sandbars, and sand tigers, which are on the list of prohibited species.

The latter two species have low reproductive rates as a result of overfishing.

The Delaware fishing regulations website states sandbars and sand tigers are often hooked in Delaware waters, because parts of the coast act as “pupping areas” and nurseries to the protected sharks.

While shark fishing is legal in the state, anglers must follow very specific regulations when fishing for any species of shark. Anglers are not allowed to land or possess prohibited species when they are caught. They must be removed and released while still in the water.

Taking the shark out of the water could be dangerous and potentially harmful to the animal.

For the sharks not on the prohibited species list, fishing seasons vary from all year to very specific dates. Restrictions on size also vary, and all species, except smooth dogfish and spiny dogfish, have a daily limit of just one per vessel.

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Illegal Shark Fishing an Increasing Problem for Delaware