If you don’t know, let it go.

Shark fishing is mostly a catch-and-release sport, but some species, such as blacktip, mako and sharpnose, are pretty good to eat.

It’s important to follow the laws, and very important to know which species is which. Some, such as dusky and sandbar, are protected from all harvest.

How do you tell them apart? NOAA Fisheries recently released some very helpful tools for anglers. The first is a video detailing some of the basic advice.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avOBR8xJm40&feature=youtu.be

Here’s a link to the Shark Identification guide. Might be a good idea to print the PDF, laminate it, and keep it in your boat.
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/documents/fmp/am5/a5b_index.html

Note, too, that as of January 1, 2018, there will be a shark endorsement requirement added to the federal NOAA HMS vessel Angling permit. This is the permit recreational anglers fishing federal waters (outside 9 miles on the Gulf, 3 on the Atlantic) purchase if targeting swordfish, billfish and tunas. It’s in addition to a state fishing license.

Another recent development: Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks are required if targeting sharks with natural bait.

Last but not least, where shark fishing is concerned, Florida state fishing regulations differ a bit from the federal guidelines. One chief difference: Hammerheads (scalloped, smooth and great) and lemon sharks are completely protected from harvest in Florida waters. State shark rules may be found here: http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/sharks/

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