Some of tournament’s anglers possibly in hot water for killing protected species
Upstate anglers aboard the boat High Expectations brought a huge shark to weigh in during this month’s Edisto Watersports and Tackle’s annual shark tournament. The 956-pound tiger shark won the first place prize, earning the team $2940 for first place. They also pocketed another $2100 for the calcutta.
Bullfrog took second place with a 666-pound shark, which was good for $840. Organized Chaos finished in third with a 507-pound shark, followed by Cold Beer in fourth place with a 481-pound tiger. The Thirsty Tiger took fifth place with a shark that tipped the scales at 319 pounds.
A total of 13 sharks were weighed in during the tournament, which has been held annually for the past eight years. But some of the sharks may have been prohibited species, said Wallace Jenkins, assistant director of SCDNR’s Office of Fisheries Management.
“Our staff looked at it, and a number of people sent us photos asking whether they were legal or not. Based on the photos, some of them were questionable,” Jenkins said.
So far, no charges have been filed, but SCDNR enforcement officers have been reviewing evidence. The National Marine Fisheries Service is also looking into the matter.
Jenkins acknowledged that Edisto Watersports and Tackle had the proper permission to hold the tournament, and that no laws were broken by tournament directors, who held a captain’s meeting to ensure everyone fishing in the tournament knew the laws and regulations, including what species of sharks are legal and illegal to harvest.
Jenkins said the majority of the sharks brought to the weigh in were tiger sharks, which are legal as long as they are 54 inches long or greater. It appears, however, that one may have been a dusky shark, and that two may have been sandbar sharks. Federal law prohibits recreational anglers from keeping these species.
Dillard Young, owner of Edisto Watersports and Tackle, said while it’s no excuse, he does not believe any anglers intentionally broke the law. He said he believes it a case of mistaken identity, which is not uncommon with some shark species, especially sandbar sharks, which look very much like bull sharks, a legal shark to catch and keep.
“The fact that they (photos) were put on Facebook indicates that perhaps they didn’t know what they were,” Jenkins said.
But intentional or not, both said it is the responsibility of anglers to properly identify their catches, and to only keep those that are legal.
Another shark fishing tournament will take place on July 9 out of Bennetts Point, just above Beaufort, S.C.