‘Bloodbaiting’ Ignites Shark Fishing Debate In Florida

Officials in Melbourne Beach, Florida, are proposing a ban on shark fishing in their municipality, amid fears that “bloodbaiting” techniques are endangering beachgoers.

Melbourne Beach Mayor Jim Simmons related multiple examples of “bloodbaiting” to Florida Today, asserting that the fishing techniques, which involve chumming with blood and dead fish, attract sharks to the very same areas where beachgoers enjoy the ocean, potentially setting the stage for a confrontation between the ocean’s deadliest predator and man.

“I see nine or 10 rods in an area 150 feet wide. And right next to them, there were four mothers with their kids. And they’re all swimming in there,” Simmons contended. Unfortunately, he says, the law is on the side of shark fishermen that he believes are acting irresponsibly.

“I’m like, ‘Come on! These people are swimming right where you’re shark fishing. Can’t you move down the beach?’ And they were like, ‘We have our rights. We don’t have to move.’ And that’s true, unfortunately.”

The fishermen are indeed within their rights, as in Florida, only the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission can regulate Saltwater fishing and chumming, leaving individual municipalities with their hands tied. Nevertheless, Simmons is hoping to change the situation. Last week, Melbourne Beach commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution that would urge state officials to ban shark fishing and chumming within 300 yards of a public beach, within town limits.

Simmons also plans to speak with officials at an upcoming Orlando FWC Commission meeting in an effort to convince them that shark fishing is dangerous when conducted so close to public beaches. According to WFTV, Simmons pointed out that the resolution isn’t about banning shark fishing, but rather making the sport safer for the public:

“There are plenty of beaches south of us in the inlet and even further south where they can go shark fishing and not encounter any swimmers.”

As The Inquisitr previously noted, a woman was bitten on the leg by a shark in Melbourne Beach last May. The municipality previously considered a ban on bloodbaiting in December 2012, but the proposal was dropped. A petition to protest the current proposal, circulated by 20-year-old shark fisherman Tony Alaburda, currently has around 180 signatures.

“Out of the eight years we have fished for shark at Avenue B, no one has been bitten there,” The young man said, adding, “Supporters of the ban try to smear our image, saying that we yell and boss the swimmers and surfers around. In reality, it has been nothing but the opposite.”

While Alaburda contends that shark fishing and shark attacks share no correlation, Simmons says that the motivations of the fishermen are beyond him. “I don’t understand why people would want to shark fish amongst swimmers and surfers.”

[Image via Bay News 9]