At its quarterly meeting in October 2020, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) staff recommended new regulations to Commissioners that would authorize fishermen to use food (chum) to lure sharks for harvesting (killing) in the federal waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) in South Florida and if implemented would forbid divers or boaters from feeding sharks.
This proposed regulation will have a detrimental impact on those traveling to or living in Florida who wish to see or interact with sharks while diving. The recommended action may also establish a precedent for additional and injurious diver restrictions in ALL federal waters.
Why does DEMA oppose this?
- Currently, FWC regulations in state waters that prohibit fish feeding are only applicable to divers in the water.
- In the past, FWC has supported and advocated for federal legislation that would prohibit fish feeding in federal waters.
- FWC provided support for the FKNMS Restoration Blueprint proposal because they claim the act of fish feeding has caused human safety issues and has been shown to change the behaviour of fishes, sharks, and other animals (DEMA emphasis).
- The Commission could consider updating statewide fish feeding regulations to be aligned with those proposed by the FKNMS following the release of the FKNMS’ draft federal rule.