The South Jersey Shark Fishing Tournament marked its 35 year anniversary this year. Out of Cape May, NJ, the tournament spans three days each June. This year exactly 400 sharks were caught. Fortunately, 90% of the animals were released and 40 were killed and brought back to shore. One hundred and one boats paid the $575 entrance fee vying for their share of the $345,128 in cash prizes. With numbers like that, it seems this tournament won’t be going anywhere. Per them: “Our shark tournament is structured to provide participants with the best possible fishing hours, lucrative cash prizes and an equal chance for boats of all sizes to compete – all while setting an example of sportsmanship and sound conservation practices.”
As much as we hate to hear about 400 sharks being caught, even if “only” 40 are killed, it’s still work taking a look at the data:
It’s worth noting a few of the differences between 2014 and 2015. First, last year had 97 boats enter the tournament, just 4 less than 2015, with a total purse of$323,273. With that in mind, over twice the number of mako sharks were caught this year. There were fewer blue sharks and thresher sharks caught. In 2014, no tiger sharks or hammerhead sharks were hooked while this year saw 7 and 6 respectively.
Here’s a look at the totals from the last 5 years, 2010 – 2015:
The tournament has a minimum weight rule of 200 lbs. This rule has come under some scrutiny with regards to thresher sharks, and critics are calling for an increased weight limit for this species. As the above table shows, thresher sharks are the only species that are more frequently kept than released. With virtually no chance of making the leader board, it would be nice to see the smaller threshers released back to the wild.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and other shark fishing tournaments. Post your comments below.