On August 11, newly appointed executive director at the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) Rob Nixon sent an official letter to the Honorable Leonard Desiderio, mayor of Sea Isle City regarding the municipality’s decision to ban shark fishing from town beaches.
“As a long time leader of a New Jersey beach community and popular tourist destination I do not need to tell you how important fishing is to your residents and visitors,” Nixon said, pointing out how surfcaster and beachgoers have coexisted along the Jersey Shore for many generations. “It is not only an enjoyable sport but it is a major part of the tourism industry,” Nixon state.
“The municipal ban on ‘shark fishing’ is not only difficult to enforce but it risks sending an overly broad message that this is just the first of any number of restrictions on any surf fishing to come,” Nixon wrote in his letter, adding “While I do not believe that is your intention the Ordinance as I understand it places anglers at risk of large fines merely from an allegation that they ‘targeted’ a shark.”
In the letter, RFA pointed out how the concept of the ordinance itself raises serious questions about its fair enforcement, as in should surfcasters be concerned that this could simply lead to targeting the anglers themselves just for fishing from the beach? What happens, for example, if a shark is accidentally caught when an angler is clearly in target of a different species? “At what point does the angler who has accidentally hooked a shark get to release it before facing fines,” Nixon asked.
The Sea Isle City council has stressed its commitment to working with members of the surfcasting and surf communities in an effort to develop long-term solutions to shark fishing off the City shore, Nixon has offered RFA’s support in the process. “As the organization representing the interests of saltwater anglers I hope you will include the RFA in
those discussions,” he added.