The FSFA was established in 1968. It is a family oriented, non profit organization dedicated to promote and advance the enjoyment of sport fishing in the Space Coast area and throughout the state of Florida. The Club is actively involved in resource conservation, artificial reef building, youth projects and community service. Through education and economic contribution, the FSFA strives to do its part to preserve and enhance the precious marine resources for future generations to enjoy.
Sharks are big business in Florida, whether its fishing for them or just spectating.(Photo: Fin Factor Charters, Port Canaveral)
PORT CANAVERAL — At the end of each year, Capt. Joseph Smith reviews what fish most of his customers want to fish for while in Florida.
Overwhelmingly it's the shark.
"I just think people have a fascination with sharks," said Smith, a charter boat captain with the Port Canaveral-based Fin Factor Charters. "Many people have never seen one close up or next to the boat for that matter. People have a curiosity about sharks and they want to get more close up and personal with them."
Smith's comments are in line with a report released Tuesday by Oceana, the international ocean conservation organization, that shows shark-related dives in Florida generated more than $221 million in direct revenue and fueled over 3,700 jobs last year. Oceana's larger point is to dampen the market for shark fins in the United States, which the organization said was a much smaller $1.03 million enterprise in 2015.
In short, Oceana says it's more economical to view sharks than to kill them.
“Shark-based tourism, which depends on healthy shark populations, is a lucrative and rapidly growing industry in the U.S. as more and more divers recognize the beauty and awe of swimming with these magnificent creatures. In Florida alone, the revenue generated by this activity is more than 200 times that of the national fin trade," Oceana campaign director Lora Snyder said. "However, 25% of sharks and their relatives are threatened with extinction, in part due to the global fin trade.
“In the long run, sharks in Florida simply generate more revenue alive and in the water,” she said.
Spinner sharks caught in the Atlantic Ocean off Satellite Beach. (Photo: FLORIDA TODAY files)
Oceana said fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year, and more than 70% of the 14 most common shark species involved in the Hong Kong trade are considered at high or very high risk of extinction. This shark fin trade involves "finning," cutting the fins off of a shark and discarding its body at sea, often still alive. The sharks eventually bleed to death or are consumed by another sea predator.
Oceana said, while shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, shark fins continue to be bought and sold throughout the U.S. Eleven states have bans on shark fin products, though Florida isn't one of them. Federal law prohibits finning in the United States, but fisherman can bring the entire shark to port where the fin can be removed from the shark carcass and sold.
The organization is trying to get Congress to prohibit the sale and trade of all shark fin products in the United States.
Smith said some charter boat captains hold the opinion that "the only good shark is a dead shark," but that's not his position.
The most common shark species in this area are the blacktip and spinners, he said, and he prefers them healthy and swimming in the water where people can view them.
"I like to practice more catch-and-release when it comes to sharks," Smith said. "I'm not one that wants to keep them."
Key findings from the Oceana study
In 2016, shark-encounter dives generated about $221 million in direct expenditures, which fueled 3,797 jobs and more than $116 million in wages.
Follow Wayne T. Price on Twitter: @Fla2dayBiz
The Florida Sport Fishing Association (FSFA) is a family oriented, non-profit organization formed of individuals and families sharing a common love of sport fishing, the associated outdoor resources, the local area communities where we live and the idea that through education of both children and adults, the sport itself and the resources upon which it depends can be preserved and advanced.
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Membership in the FSFA provides a number of benefits including simply a strong fellowship within a diverse, experienced group focused on "Sport Fishing".
John Durkee, President
Doug Kaska, Vice President
Chris Pashos, Treasurer
Paul Keefe, Secretary