Recently, on November 16, 2011, there was a new law passed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stating that it would be illegal from January 1, 2012 to harvest the tiger shark and the three species of hammerhead sharks in Florida. To be more specific, the exact names of these sharks are: the tiger sharks also known as Galeocerdo cuvier, the great hammerhead shark, scientifically known as the Sphyrna mokarran, the smooth hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna zygaena) and the scalloped hammerhead sharks also known as Sphyrna lewini.
The catching of these four species should be on a release basis & they should not be possessed, killed, sold or exchanged in state waters. These rules are applicable only for the state waters and are not applicable for the harvesting of these species in the federal waters.
Why this new regulation?
This new regulation has been specifically made on these four species as the tiger shark population has declined rapidly in past few years, as almost 97% of tiger sharks have been reduced in US Atlantic waters. While the three other species of the hammerhead sharks have reduced up to 70% in the same area. The main purpose of these sharks being caught is for their fins as they are commonly found in shark fin soup.
Further the tiger sharks reproduce very slowly and are estimated to reproduce once in every two to three years. It takes almost 15 years for the tiger sharks to reach sexual maturity. With such a slow reproduction rate and high harvesting or killing rate, the tiger sharks declined with such a high rate as 97%.
Similarly, the other hammerhead sharks species reproduce once after two or three years so it was highly essential to protect these sharks before they vanish from the Atlantic Ocean in Florida.
The Punishment for Killing These Sharks
According to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, killing of these newly protected sharks would result in a second degree misdemeanor which means, the culprit may end up 60 days in jail along with the fine of $500.
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held some public workshops in which the people made some public comments on the changes that need to be done for the current Commission shark rule. To be more specific, the motive of these public workshops was that they need to gather some public comments to know what addition they need to make to protect the other several species of the sharks in order to protect them from harvesting. These workshops were held in mid to late June 2011, and all the people of Florida who were passionate about the protection of the tiger and hammerhead sharks, and also for the environment participated in it.
So with the help of these workshops, public comments and observations, it was found that even killing a few of these sharks can have a huge impact so this new law was made and will be in practice from January 1st, 2012.