2020: The End of An Era.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, Apex Anglers will no longer offer shark fishing guides in the state of New Jersey.

Before I continue, I would first like to thank all of my clients, friends and business partners. You were the life-line to all of this. As a result, we really got to live out some really cool experiences that I won’t ever forget.

With that being said, I feel it is my moral obligation to shed some light to my fellow anglers who may be perplexed by this decision.

Let’s begin by getting something straight right away:

You do not have to agree with every law on the book to respect the conservation officers you may encounter. At the end of the day, their job is to protect our resources.

Last year, July of 2019, NJ DEP released a statement that was essentially put in place to shut down all shark fishing from the beach. The reasoning was simple:

“The majority of sharks you will encounter here are prohibited species.”

Unsurprisingly, the first line of defense by just about everyone on the beach went something like:

“I am not targeting any specific species of shark. I just want to catch something big.”

To be fair, that is an honest truth, as setting our sights on that one anomaly is what fishing has always been about for most of us. We really were out there hoping for something new and exotic. But let’s not pretend the norm was unwelcome.

However, that’s where things get admittedly tricky, frustrating and downright confusing for both parties.

On one hand, you have good people just out to de-stress on the beach and enjoy themselves, not even understanding that they may be doing something incorrectly. And on the other hand you have more good people, but with a job to do.

It’s a messy situation that is not easily remedied. But here is something straight from NOAA that should clear up at least one common misconception.

The number one most confusing thing among land based shark fishermen is the ease-of-access to tags from NOAA’s Apex Predator Program. This leads most anglers to believe that they are now “fishing for science” and therefore have a pass, so that they can provide data.

I reached out to NOAA, and was told that they understand the confusion, especially in New Jersey, but when it comes to sharks on the prohibited species list, a permit issued by the state in which you are fishing is required to tag them.

The reason they still use data obtained by you, is because A. you assume all risk by accepting the tags and B. Of course that data is still useful. The confusion sets in even further when your tags are replenished and you are sent rewards for your participation. But once again, you assumed the risk. As far as they’re concerned, you’re playing by all the rules.

There are so many variables and potential grey areas that continue to boggle the minds of everyone involved. But the truth of the matter is that this is an important subject. Land based shark fishing only continues to grow, so common sense regulations are becoming more warranted. While I don’t personally agree with the prohibition of an entire fishery, I would quickly get behind a system that requires some sort of proper handling education.

Everyone knows I could go on forever and ever, but I intended for this to be brief and somewhat informative for anyone confused by recent events.

Let’s be clear as day. This hits me hard. I poured endless amounts of energy into learning everything I now know, building friendships and partnerships, getting to assist with real science, and trying to do right by the sharks. During my 8 years, I’ve gained such respect for these fish, and will continue to do everything I can to advocate for them.

I have since moved to Florida, where I hope to operate as a year-round business.

Thank you for everything.

AJ

Leave a Reply

RSS
Follow by Email
YouTube20
YouTube
INSTAGRAM0
%d bloggers like this: