The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing changes to recreational fishing regulations in New York’s Marine and Coastal District. This rulemaking is designed to improve the management and protection of sharks by establishing gear restrictions for recreational shore anglers to enhance law enforcement’s ability to protect sharks and includes new handling and release methods for anglers to improve shark and angler safety.
The proposed regulation is available for public comment until August 7th, 2023.
This proposed regulation seeks to further protect shark species that are currently illegal to take or possess under New York State regulation, referred to as “prohibited” shark species for recreational fishing. A complete list of the existing recreational shark fishing regulations is available on DEC’s website.
The proposed regulations were designed to protect these shark species while maintaining recreational opportunities for shore-based anglers targeting legal species. Proposed gear restrictions specific to recreational shore anglers include the prohibition of:
- baited J-hooks exceeding a width of 7/8 inches and baited circle hooks exceeding 1 1/8 inches in width when measured at the widest inside dimension;
- the use of metal fishing leaders attached to baited hooks that exceed 12 inches in length;
- chumming within 600 feet of the shoreline except with mollusks and crustaceans;
- deploying baited hooks by means other than casting with rod and reel;
- and the use of artificial lures when taking sharks.
In addition, this rulemaking seeks to improve shark handling and release practices for all shore- and vessel-based anglers. The proposed rules clarify requirement to immediately release all prohibited shark species and prohibits the removal from the water of any shark that will be released. The rulemaking also requires recreational anglers fishing for sharks to possess a device capable of cutting the leader or hook to remove fishing gear immediately without unnecessary harm, as well as requiring anglers to take every precaution to ensure the maximum probability of survival of any shark that will be released.
Prohibited shark species found in New York State waters include sandbar (“brown”), dusky, and sand tiger sharks, and are the primary shark species caught from shore. These species are also encountered by vessel-based anglers in nearshore waters. Dusky and sand tiger sharks are both listed as “High Priority Species of Greatest Conservation Need” in the New York State Wildlife Action Plan.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed sandbar and dusky sharks as “endangered” species and sand tiger sharks as “critically endangered” due to population declines and long expected recovery times. Additionally, both sand tiger and dusky shark are listed as “species of concern” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, which indicates their populations are declining or appear to need conservation actions.
The proposed regulations and additional information are available on DEC’s website. DEC will hold a virtual public hearing to accept public comment on Tuesday, August 1st, at 6 pm. Information on how to participate in the hearing can be found at DEC’s website.
The public is invited to submit written comments on the proposed rulemaking through 5 pm, on August 7th, 2023. Written comments can be submitted by email to email@example.com with the subject line: “Proposed Part 40 – Sharks” or by mail to the NYSDEC – Division of Marine Resources, 123 Kings Park Blvd., Kings Park, NY 11754, ATTN: Christopher Scott.