No Citations Yet With OC’s New Shark Law

OCEAN CITY — After the Ocean City Mayor and Council passed an emergency ordinance banning an increasingly popular type of shark fishing from the beach, Ocean City police have yet to issue a citation for a violation of the new law.

In response to citizen complaints and concerns, the Mayor and Council in mid-August passed an ordinance that bans shark fishing from the beach by any means other than a traditional rod and reel. The complaints came after some surf fishermen on the beach in the north end of the resort were utilizing non-conventional methods for getting large baits considerable further out into the ocean including paddling them out by kayak or even launching them from propulsion devices.

As a result, the larger baits, including whole tuna carcasses with the heads still attached, were attracting large sharks from much further out in the ocean then a traditional surf rod would allow and some of the big sharks were being hauled up on the beach. In at least one example, a surf fisherman was operating a quasi-business with people on the beach allowed to take a turn on the reel and then pose with the big sharks, some of which measured eight feet or longer.

Concerned with the idea of big sharks being hauled to the beach and visitors including children posing with them, the Mayor and Council in August passed an emergency ordinance aimed at eliminating the potentially dangerous practice. One section of the ordinance makes it illegal to fish by any methods commonly referred to as chumming or blood-baiting within 600 feet of the beach at any time of the year.

Another section makes it unlawful for any person to fish by utilizing a baited hook sent into the ocean by means of propulsion or by water vessel at any time of the year. Both sections were passed as municipal infractions with a maximum fine of $1,000. The new law went into effect immediately upon its passage, but to date there have been no citations issued for violations, according to OCPD spokesperson Lindsay Richard this week.

“There have been no citations issued for shark fishing,” she said. “We continue to encourage citizens to contact us if they witness individuals violating the new shark ordinance even as the beaches begin to get less crowded.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.