Are Fishing Regulations Causing Shark Attacks? Sheltering Sharks From Catch May Lead To Injuries

Washington, DC, August 8, 2001 – The frequency and number of shark attacks have been on the rise in recent years, reaching record levels in 2000.  During the same years that the number of attacks has been rising, severe restrictions on the number of sharks that can be caught by both commercial and sport fishermen have dramatically increased the shark population in coastal waters.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


In Florida, for instance, where the majority of attacks occur, federal and state protections for sharks led to a more than 80 percent decrease in the number of sharks taken during the 1990s, and state restrictions have created what amounts to shark sanctuaries in waters closest to shore, where attacks are most likely to occur.  Florida averaged 10 attacks annually in the four years leading up to federal involvement in managing the shark fishery; in the years since the state has averaged 25 attacks a year (including a record 34 last year), representing a 150 percent increase.


Although no one can say for sure exactly why sharks attack, one of the most plausible explanations for why such episodes are occurring more frequently – that mandated reductions in shark catches are leaving thousands more sharks in the water – is dismissed by many self-proclaimed experts in the field for whom the decline of sharks, and the need to add to their numbers, has become dogma.  This blindness is especially irresponsible given the serious public safety implications of the policies they’ve been promoting.


Available for interviews and comment:


Sean Paige

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Warren Brookes Fellow in Environmental Journalism


[email protected]


Read Sean Paige’s analysis of fishing restrictions and shark attacks at National Review Online.


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