Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) announced that legislation he sponsored with Senator Ken LaValle has been signed into law by Governor Cuomo. The bill, A.5421-A/S.3884-A amends the Environmental Conservation Law to limit the taking of sharks, with the exclusion of the spiny dogfish, to the use of non-stainless non-offset circle hooks.
A circle hook is a fishing hook by which the point is turned perpendicular to the shank to form a circular shape. Scientific studies predict higher survival rates for released fish when circle hooks and catch-and-release techniques are used, as circle hooks are more likely to hook a fish in the mouth rather than the gut. Circle hooks are easier to remove than the typically used J hook and can reduce the potential harm to fish. Non-stainless hooks further enhance survival rates as they dissolve in the digestive system, especially in large predator fish like sharks.
Several species of sharks are endangered and many more are threatened as populations worldwide are dwindling. Efforts like this legislation are needed to decrease the mortality rates of sharks that unnecessarily expire after being freed from a baited hook. It is especially important for sharks that have reached sexual maturity to be able to breed and reproduce to preserve the species. This legislation now prohibits the taking of sharks for commercial or recreational purposes by baited hooking except with the use of non-stainless steel non-offset circle hooks. In addition, it requires that shark tournament rules must stipulate the exclusive use of such circle hooks.
This new law protects shark species as well as the traditional shark-fishing sport.