Florida Sets Major Precedent In Shark Conservation

Larger Image

That is not a Photoshop trick, and I understand why that may not seem very relevant; without a little context, that is. I captured the image on November 16, 2011 in Key Largo Florida. Aside from being something you don't see every day; a hammerhead shark hanging from a crane several stories in the air with the International "Do Not" icon spray painted on its side, it's the timing that provides some ponderous meaning.

I spotted it while driving to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Meeting with my brother, Brooks, where the FWC would be voting on proposed rule changes that, if passed, would prohibit the recreational and commercial harvest, landing and sale of great, smooth and scalloped hammerheads, as well as tiger sharks in Florida's state waters. These major changes would no doubt have significant positive impacts on the long-term conservation of these animals. It could be said there was a lot Hanging in the Balance. Brooks and I made the 500-mile, same day round trip and hooked up down there with some of our key collaborators. We were all prepared to testify in front of the Commission, as to why we were in favor of the rule changes. For us and some others, it would be our third such meeting on the issue this year around the state.

This has been a hotly debated issue, but in the end, the Commission voted unanimously to pass the rule changes. We extend a special round of applause to the Commission for their careful deliberations of this matter, for taking our views and opinions into consideration, and for leveraging the kind of forward-thinking action and bold decision-making that will go far in establishing important conservation precedent. To all friends and collaborators who joined us and did more than just stand around to wait and see what others might do or what might happen, our hats off to you.

We'll double-check to make sure we get all the names spelled right, but for now, this is "The Crew"

As for the hammerhead image at the top of this entry, call it coincidence, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then that is one of the most interesting shots I've had the pleasure of pushing the button on. Pretty much says it all.

One final note. It's on the official record, but we've had a lot of people ask exactly what it is that Brooks and I say at these meetings so we'll post a copy of it here and let you know when it's up. In the meantime, and in summary, "We do not condone purely wasteful practices". Here are a few more images from the meeting.

Sean Paxton delivers testimony, as part of a long list of those "in favor"

Brooks Paxton steps up

Zach Miller steps up ...

And the list of those in favor continued from what the Commission referred to as "many pages" of names. For the record, there was one opposed.