Recent conservation efforts have advocated for SCUBA diving ecotourism as a nonconsumptive alternative use of sharks. Although generally overlooked by conservation advocates, another nonextractive use is catch-and-release fishing, which remains poorly characterized for shark fishing. In this study, we use a combination of website content analysis and surveys of charter boat captains to assess the scale of Florida's charter boat shark fishing industry. We further examine the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of charter boat captains whose clients fish for sharks in Florida. We show that recreational charter boat shark fishing occurs throughout the state but is heavily concentrated in the Florida Keys. Shark fishing is often the most expensive trip offered, suggesting that sharks are economically important to the charter boat fishing industry. Florida's charter boat shark fishers who show a strong conservation ethic toward sharks practice catch and release commonly. Our results suggest that although some species are better candidates for catch-and-release fishing than others due to inherent physiological vulnerabilities to postrelease mortality, Florida's charter boat shark fishery can augment the recent “ecotourism conservation” argument that sharks may be worth more alive than dead.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science
- Nature and Landscape Conservation