While some may argue it’s another example of individual liberties being stripped, we think the Ocean City Mayor and Council were right to act swiftly to a growing surf fishing movement that poses public safety dangers.
Individuals have been kayaking 50 to 100 yards offshore and dropping fish heads and parts to lure sharks close to shore. The idea then is it makes catching the shark easier. Once hooked, the shark can be beached for photos, which in some cases are available for a fee but most of the time is just for fun.
This is a practice that cannot be permitted to continue. It’s too dangerous and there’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured.
The photos we have seen on the Internet typically show a group of people hovered around a shark with one or two people holding its jaws open to expose its teeth. Everyone seems to be having a joyous time, but the problem is two-fold.
One, it’s extremely traumatic for the sharks. In some cases, there are examples when the stress imposed on the sharks has actually resulted in them later dying. Secondly, the line between fun and dangerous is too thin here. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets injured or worse due to their unfamiliarity with sharks.
In this case, government was right to step in and create an ordinance making it unlawful “for any person to fish by utilizing those methods commonly referred to as chumming or blood-baiting from the beach or within 600 feet of the beach at any time of the year.” It goes on to address any sort of “propulsion” of baits from shore would not be permitted.
With any law, particularly those of the new variety, enforcement is key. Without it, the city has just added another paper law. Police know where these situations have been taking place this summer, but they can’t be canvassing the beach on a daily basis. This is when the public, particularly those along the oceanfront, need to be an extra set of eyes for the police. If they see this sort of activity taking place, they need to report it and let law enforcement handle the matter from that point on.