At the request of the anglers and spectators, the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo (ADSFR) is bringing back the shark category for the 89th annual Deep Sea Rodeo. After 7 years, of not having sharks as a category for the ADSFR it is coming back. This year’s ADSFR is scheduled for July 14th through the 17th on Dauphin Island.
Of course though before approving and announcing the return of the shark category, the ADSFR officials checked with marine scientists. This was to ensure bringing the category back was a ecologically sound thing to do.
“It’s been about 7 years since we had a shark category,” said Mark Schambeau, this year’s rodeo president. “We had a lot of requests from anglers and spectators to bring sharks back. So, we started talking to Dr. Sean Powers with the University of South Alabama (USA), Dr. Marcus Drymon of Mississippi State and a few others. We wanted to know about the stock assessment for sharks and how their numbers look in the Gulf of Mexico. They told us they were back to good numbers. They gave us a go-ahead to consider bringing the shark category back.
“We talked to a lot of anglers about bringing it back. They were all excited and wanted to help fund bringing it back. We have shark as an open category, but we also have a shark jackpot, sponsored by Gulf Hauling and Construction, which is funded through a lot of the anglers. This year we are giving away a guaranteed $12,000 for first place.”
The shark category will include only these four species; tiger sharks, bull sharks, hammerhead sharks (greater hammerheads and scalloped hammerheads), and blacktip sharks. For the tigers, bulls, and hammerheads there is a minimum size of at least 80 inches in total length. The minimum size for blacktips is 60 inches in total length. These larger minimum sizes are on purpose, the goal of the officials is to only bring in trophy specimens. This keeps people from bringing in small sharks for the scale and reduces the kill.
Any angler who wants to participate in the rodeo’s shark categories is required to possess an Atlantic HMS (highly migratory species) permit with a shark endorsement (hmspermits.noaa.gov) from NOAA Fisheries.
“We only want the large sharks, the mature sharks,” Schambeau said. “We don’t want small sharks. We put large minimums on those sharks because we don’t want a free-for-all. We will be making regular posts on our social media to educate anglers on the legal sizes and species for our tournament.
“Another reason to have larger minimums is to make it easier to identify. That’s why we selected certain species, to help reduce any misidentification. We won’t allow any of the protected shark species to be brought to our docks.”
Anglers aren’t the only ones excited about the return of the category. Marine scientists will be able to obtain valuable information from the sharks brought to the rodeo. The sharks will be used for research and information that will help further conservation efforts.
Visit www.adsfr.com for details about the event, including tickets, rules and regulations.