Outdoors

If you want to hook a shark, you better know what you have on the end of the line

What is believed to be a 600-pound mako shark sits in Kevin Higgenbotham's 36-foot boat after the fishermen returned to Biloxi with their catch on Sunday, January 8, 2012. Tim King of Ocean Springs hooked the shark, but it took a crew of seven about three hours to land him.
What is believed to be a 600-pound mako shark sits in Kevin Higgenbotham's 36-foot boat after the fishermen returned to Biloxi with their catch on Sunday, January 8, 2012. Tim King of Ocean Springs hooked the shark, but it took a crew of seven about three hours to land him. amccoy@sunherald.com File

Do you know the difference between a dusky shark and a bull shark or blacktip shark? You'll have to if you hope to hook one of the large fish this year.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced Friday that any anglers who fish in federal waters are now required to earn a shark endorsement in order to keep sharks they catch.

The endorsement is part of the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species permit currently required by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The permit is available online at hmspermits.noaa.gov. To earn the endorsement, which costs $20 and runs a full calendar year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, you must pass a shark identification quiz.

"Anglers need to know about this in light of the upcoming Red Snapper season," DMR spokesperson Melissa Scallan said. "Since recreational fishermen will be allowed to fish in federal waters, they need to know about the permit in case they catch a shark that they want to keep."

According to the NOAA, there are 21 species of sharks that are endangered and cannot be retained, including Atlantic angel, bigeye thresher, bignose, dusky, night, longfin mako, sandbar, sand tiger, sevengill, silky and white.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2326, @patrickochs
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