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Shark Fishing Veteran Captured 800-Pound Mako

The fishermen went out with chum buckets to attract a shark and returned with the fish to Del Rey Landing

The anglers who caught the estimated 800-pound shortfin mako shark off the L.A. coast on Monday hired a professional shark guide, and have since cut and preserved the animal for food.

Public furor erupted when the catch was , questioning the legality and rationale of the fishermen's actions and condemning the predator's removal from the ecosystem.

A 30-year shark-fishing veteran led the excursion, commissioned by a private unidentified boat, and set out with the intention of catching and keeping a mako shark.

The boat captain, who because of the backlash wishes to remain anonymous to protect his employer, a commercial shark-fishing charter company, said that this was the first shark he has killed in about two years, and only the fourth in his 20 years as a professional shark fisherman in Southern California.

“We gutted the fish, we cut off the fins and tossed them, and it’s been already been eaten by a lot of us. The rest was frozen,” he said. 

In California, anyone with a fishing license can legally catch two sharks per day, and there is neither a legal minimum or maximum weight for catching a mako. Non-commercial fishermen are not allowed to sell the meat, and have to either donate it or consume it. It is also unlawful for anyone to possess, sell or trade a shark fin, which unlike shark meat that is worth only pennies a pound, can fetch upwards of $600 a pound.

The boat captain said the fins were discarded.

On an 800-pound shark, about 30 percent of its weight is salvageable for consumption, according to Leon Mihon, a a retired squid fisherman from San Pedro, who would occasionally catch sharks to sell.

“You’re not fishing sharks for the money,” he said, estimating that the 800-pound shark would fetch about $100 and “not even enough to cover gas.”

Mihon said a lot of shark meat caught in California in the 1960s and 70s was exported to England for fish and chips, and since then, the sport-fishing industry has reduced its impact on the marine ecosystem.

The majority of sport-fishing operations in California often catch and release sharks – an estimated 27 of the 436 short-fin mako sharks caught in 2010 were kept, according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, a forum comprised of federal and state officials that develops conservation and management resources for the West Coast.

“The mako population is relatively stable, and there is no evidence that it’s in decline,” said Monica Allen, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA conducts surveys every year on shark populations, and although numbers tend to vary widely from year to year due to a myriad of factors, such as ocean conditions, scientists have caught and released 60 sharks so far in 2012, compared to 13 in 2011.

Blue Planet Society July 07, 2012 at 08:13 AM
Both the short-fin and long-fin mako sharks are listed as 'vulnerable' by the IUCN and only a fool would suggest that sharks are not in deep, deep trouble worldwide. Millions of sharks are being slaughtered every year by fisheries that are not sustainable and there is a very real possibility of many shark species becoming extinct in our lifetime. Some oceanic sharks use 'superhighways' and while you may think you are fishing for them sustainably in the US, the same populations may be being overfished elsewhere. There's also the issue of education. The kids, who may have to live without many shark species in the future due to overfishing, are the ones who will see these pictures, or be taken to the marina for the weigh-in and think it is perfectly normal to kill apex predators for sport. Sportfishing fishing may not be the biggest threat to sharks, but it is by far the most visible aspect of an almost complete disregard for one of world's most iconic animals. If we are to have any hope of conserving sharks for future generations both the sportfishing community and the media are going to have to take a long, hard look at the way they treat sharks. It was once acceptable to glorify the killing of lions and tigers, but that idea is now laughable. If you think carefully about the way that this large short-fin mako shark (the breeding stock of the future) has been treated, in a decade or two we will probably look back and ponder 'how was that ever allowed to happen?'
Jeanette July 07, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Agree totally with Blue Planet! I love fishing myself but sometimes you just have to step back and let the population recover. Unfortunately for sharks this can take many years which is why they are in trouble. Any good taxidermist can make a model from a picture, they should have let it go. That would have had the added advantage of not subjecting their family to the high levels of mercury many sharks carry also. Yep, no way would I be eating shark meat.
Theodore yach July 07, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Phew! When are humans going to stop destroying their own planet? So depressing!
Elise Rage July 07, 2012 at 01:27 PM
We should have rules and regulations set . We need a professional group to enforce laws and to be out on the ocean. We are not attacking anyone or any culture wake up people we are destroying our oceans . Took that shark forever to get to that size. And takes them so long to reproduce we need to realize if we cont this way that we will leave nothing for our children or they kids. What would we do if the echo system collapsed. We should get going and wake up I believe the future of our planet is worth fighting for!!!! So let's see of we can get laws to protect our sharks!!!!!!
Deborah Bluangel July 07, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Between 75 and 100 million sharks are killed each year worldwide, at this rate how long do you think it would be before we have an mass extinction event in the oceans? Top predators are essential for any healthy and balanced ecosystem. If anyone is in any doubt as to how this would effect them they could consider that we rely on the oceans for food, oxygen (in fact around 70% of our breathable air comes from the seas) and as a carbon sink. A lifeless sea means a lifeless planet. It is extremely upsetting to see images of sharks killed for sport and the media coverage of such events is downright irresponsible. The lack of respect for these predators in the sea is largely fear based and this is a situation that needs remedy before it is too late.
Johnny Mac July 07, 2012 at 02:07 PM
There is a professional organization that you pay to employ who make the rules for fishing and enforce them. Fishermen are very careful to follow the laws, not because of the fear of fines, but because we want to preserve and maintain the fishery. So now the question is whether allowing the take of this fish was part of the scientific management of the fishery, or should the fish and game laws have prevented it?
Elise Rage July 07, 2012 at 02:31 PM
I know there are laws already or should I say regulations but I guess I'm saying stricter. Catch and release. There is no limit weight as says per article.
kayleigh July 07, 2012 at 04:41 PM
It should be compulsory to release every shark. This is a mature shark which are becoming even more rare and endangered. Sharks are vital in maintaining the health and balance of the oceans, without sharks all the marine ecosystems will fail and in turn, our own. We must protect our sharks in order to save our oceans.
Kazuye July 07, 2012 at 05:49 PM
These fisherman are the of the same ilk as Trump's sons who killed an elephant and crowed about what "I" killed and getting their picture taken.
kevin July 08, 2012 at 07:18 AM
Go after the Japanese. They kill millions for the fins
kevin July 08, 2012 at 07:22 AM
The boat crew did nothing wrong. The asian countries are the ones who are killing everything
ImaSellout July 09, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Fascinating posts, Kevin. So after some intelligent, thought-provoking reader discussion over the "capture and keep" of an 800+ pound Mako by "sport" fishermen in Marina Del Rey -- you've distilled the problem down to "go after the Japanese" and the "Asian countries"? That said, your comment that "the boat crew did nothing wrong," is technically correct, as they broke no laws. The current debate, before you introduced Asia, revolved around whether it was wrong, in a practical sense, to kill an 800 pound shark for sport -- that may have served our world better had it been released.
Chris Wilson July 10, 2012 at 08:32 PM
I myself am a shark fisherman, and I will continue to do so as long as the law allows. I pay taxes and buy a fishing liscense every year just so I can go shark fishing. They taste absolutely delicious!!!!!
Beau Robinson July 13, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Some people love animals more than people, and will ignore the increasing numbers of sharks just to continue selling you on protecting them. Stats don't matter to them, feelings matter. They hate fishermen, but rather than admit it they pretend to love the ocean. And I doubt any of them surf, they love the ocean from their computer.
Mike Daniels September 16, 2012 at 03:10 PM
What bulldukee! These girls have no idea what they are talking about. An 800 pound mako anywhere's near Marina Del Rey or anywhere on the So. Cal. Coast should be destroyed. It is a man killer. There estimates on how many sharks are caught each year world wide are a fantasy. They just dream up these numbers and have nothing to back it up. Sharks should be fished just like other fish in the sea. No government should be able to rule the sea. Sharks taste really good. Captain Michael R. Daniels

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