New government rules spell end for Nova Scotia’s distinctive shark fishing derbies – Halifax

The Nova Scotia Shark Derby, which offered anglers the chance to land on one of the ocean’s top predators for 30 years, was canceled after officials determined it no longer served a scientific purpose.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada sanctioned shark fishing tournaments and issued scientific licenses to study sharks after they were caught. But the ministry has informed Derby organizers that their research program no longer needs specimens caught at the Derby.

Organizers of the Yarmouth Shark Scramble in southwestern Nova Scotia, the Petit de Graat Shark Derby in Cape Breton and the Lockport Sea Derby in Shelburne County have three options if they wish to continue. given. Follow the catch-and-release model where sharks don’t attack. Stay away from water. Use all captive sharks for human consumption. Alternatively, you can look for another organization that supports research on captive sharks.

“The decision to proceed with any of these options, and any applicable required license requests, rests with the shark tournament organizers,” the ministry said in an emailed statement. The ministry declined to give an interview to anyone.

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Yarmouth Shark Scramble organizer Bob Gabel said he was very disappointed with the government’s direction. He said it would be impossible for any shark derby in the state to meet the requirements set by the Department of Fisheries.

For conservation reasons, tournament participants have only been allowed to catch blue sharks since 2018, and Gabel said there wasn’t enough demand for the meat to consume all that was caught. He said trying to tag and release a shark on a crowded fishing boat would be too dangerous. And no other organization is interested in sharks for research, he said.

The August tournament was unique in Canada. “We have participants from all over Canada, the United States and even as far away as Australia,” Gabel said. “Thousands of spectators come every year. It has brought a lot of income to our community in terms of restaurants, hotels and fuel. It has created a considerable economic stimulus for us.”

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The Rockport Sea Derby said on its Facebook page that there will be no shark fishing this year due to new rules, and the Petit de Graat Shark Derby will not be running this year due to new licensing requirements. said.

Noting that blue shark populations were unaffected by the Derby, Gabel said the Canadian Fisheries and Oceans Authority’s tournament rules were unfair.

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Darby “accounts for 3 percent of the blue sharks killed each year in Canada and has a negligible impact on the overall population,” according to a report on shark tournament landings released earlier this year by the ministry. Department officials have said in the past that most of the blue sharks killed in Canada were caught on longline fishing boats to catch swordfish and tuna.

Gavel started the Yarmouth tournament in 1998 and has seen the tournament adapt over the years. At the start of the tournament, four species of shark were landed: blue blue, porpoise, blue shark and thresher shark.

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In 2004, Canada’s Endangered and Wildlife Status Commission rated the Paw Beagle as endangered, and two years later, the Games Organizing Committee voluntarily declared the species to promote conservation. The DFO report points out that they were excluded from landing. Due to similar conservation concerns for mako sharks and long-tailed tuna, the permit conditions were changed in 2018 to allow only blue sharks to land.

According to the report, organizers have increased the minimum size of sharks to be landed to nine feet in length, allowing one shark per participant and three sharks per boat to promote conservation, among other measures. , said it also imposed additional restrictions.

Gabel said the tournament is primarily a way for fishermen to spend time with their families on the water. “We are a small fishing community and the fishermen just go about their business,” he said. “But this was a way for them to take their family and such to go out and have fun.”

Data show that a total of 4,266 sharks have been landed around Nova Scotia since the first tournament began in 1993, including 4,193 blue sharks, 52 mako sharks, 15 Paw Beagles and 6 threshers. It is shown that

Between 1993 and 2005, the landings consisted of immature males and females as well as mature males, according to the report. The report said the females of reproductive age were not captured “because they were not in Canadian waters”.

The gavel remembers the first time he reeled in a shark.

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“Oh, it’s quite an adrenaline rush,” he said. “It can take three or four hours to land a fish that size. To catch and land a shark that weighs 200 to 300 pounds, over 400 pounds. That’s the adrenaline. It’s pretty tiring, and it’s a lot of fun.”

This report by the Canadian Press Agency was first published on July 14, 2023.

© 2023 Canadian Press

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