Activists decry record-setting mako shark catch

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News that a sport fisherman reeled in and kept a potentially record-setting mako shark off the Southern California coast is making waves with conservationists, who berated the catch because shark populations are vulnerable to overfishing worldwide.

The female shark, caught Monday off Huntington Beach, weighed about 1,323 pounds, the Associated Press reported. It was 11 feet long and had an 8-foot girth, said Kent Williams, a California-certified fish weight master and the owner of New Fishall Bait, where the shark was taken for frozen storage.

Jason Johnston, of Mesquite, Texas, caught the shark after a 2-1/2-hour battle, the Orange County Register reported.

If the catch is confirmed and meets conditions, it would exceed the 1,221-pound record mako catch made in July 2001 off the coast of Chatham, Mass., Jack Vitek, world records coordinator for the Florida-based International Game Fish Association, told the Los Angeles Times. It takes about two months for the association to verify domestic catches, he said.

Williams, who is storing the massive creature, told the AP that the meat normally would be donated to a local homeless shelter. Plans call for this one to be donated for research.

Under state law, anglers can take two such sharks per outing, but such large catches are exceedingly rare, Williams said. That’s mostly because even if an angler hooks such a large fish, very few are able to land it, Williams told the AP.

“There’s very few of these caught each year, but every time one’s caught, people make a big deal about it,” he said.

On Wednesday, angry callers from as far away as Australia were phoning Williams’ wholesale fish bait business to complain that he was storing the shark there.

The shark should have been released, David McGuire, director of the California-based protection advocacy group Shark Stewards, told the Times. “People should be viewing these sharks as wonderful animals that are important to the ocean and admiring how beautiful they are” rather than “spilling their blood and guts,” McGuire told the Times.

But any sport fisherman who has a potential world record is not going to release a catch, Williams said. “I don’t care what they say. If they have a potential world record, they’re going to take that fish — if they can.”

Only 23 of the 6,850 world records on file with the game fish association involve fish topping 1,300 pounds, Vitek said. The largest catch was a 2,664-pound great white shark that was taken in 1959 off the Australian coast.

“Seeing a fish over 1,000 pounds — whether it’s a shark, a tuna or a billfish — it’s extremely rare,” Vitek said.

Click here for the AP report and video.


5 comments on “Activists decry record-setting mako shark catch

  1. jumentoe

    Glad to know the activists are up in arms. When I saw the report on ABC News I made the comment that I wish the news team had not glorified the catch. The shark should have been released. Why is it that humans think it is so much fun to kill other animals that share this planet with us? What happened to this magnificent shark after they caught him? They had a couple of hours of fun but a fish that had been minding its on business, swimming around in the ocean for years lost its life so the fisherman would have a story to dine out on. We are such a pathetic race.

  2. Captain Tom

    No matter if it is a bird, insect, fish, plant or human – Extinct is forever.

  3. Sad

    We are indeed a pathetic race as our testosterone fueled binges fuel extinction and denigration of an irreplaceable planet, ecosystem and life support.

    There are records aplenty in our roster of lunacy. We need no more additions that are nothing more than a pitiful being’s attempt to dominate another specie into possible extinction. I find no comfort in the stated plans to feed this magnificent creature to the homeless.

    Perhaps we should just open the free for all to exclude nothing; The largest elephant, turtle, tiger, porpoise; even man. Line them all on a wall of shame in black granite to bow before, a photo of the supreme jock executioner with rolled up sleeves alongside.

  4. Ed Foley

    Agreed with the above comments. Catches like this are exhausting the breeding stock of over-fished species. Redfish in the 80’s were so over-fished it took extraordinary measures to save the species. Sharks are targeted for their fins and meat, but overfishing will extinct the species.
    Unfortunately we continue the ignorance. Although it may be legal to keep, did this captain consider the ethics of keeping a breeding adult like this. Perhaps this Texas man fishing in California may take another look at the reasoning behind “Catch & Release”. Hoping there will be something left for our grand kids.

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