A record number of anglers will be hitting the waters this weekend hoping to catch a winning fish to enter in the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo.
One of the largest enticements is a $20,000 reward being offered if someone breaks the state record for a tiger shark.
The current record is 173 pounds.
“That’s a tiny tiger shark, said Trey Driggers, research fishery biologist National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Pascagoula
“They get up to 1,000 pounds.”
“We’re certainly glad if somebody wins the the $20,000,” said Mississippi Department of Marine Resources spokesman Melissa Scallan.
However, a Facebook post on the department’s page states, “this agency would like to minimize the number of tiger sharks that could potentially be killed” by anglers seeking the record.
“We don’t want people bringing in fish that are nowhere close to the record,” Scallan said.
“If you know it’s not going to beat that state record, don’t even try to reel it in.”
The $20,000 seems “almost seems like a bounty,” Driggers said.
The DMR Facebook post includes other cautions for anglers and a link to a NOAA web site for identifying a tiger shark.
Triggers said the Gulf of Mexico is a “well managed fishery,” and there is no federal regulation on fishing tiger sharks, though Florida currently has a ban on recreational landing of tiger sharks in state waters.
The DMR post says “Federal law requires recreational vessels to possess a valid Highly Migratory Species (HMS) angling or HMS charter/headboat permit to fish for tiger (and other) sharks in federal waters which are beyond nine (9) nautical miles from the barrier islands.”
The post continues to say anglers need to know what the current laws are, and not to keep illegal fish.
There are numerous state and federal regulations restricting the size and number of certain species that can be caught where.
A Long Beach man though he had caught a state record bull shark in May, only to learn he had caught federally-protected ridgeback shark.
The man turned himself in to the DMR and the case was handed over to federal authorities.
NOAA is investigating the case, and no charges have been filed yet, said Kim Amendola, spokesperson for National Marine Fisheries Service in St. Petersburg.
Fishermen are responsible to know what they are catching.
“We take it pretty seriously and try to get the word out on changes in regulations, said Amendola. “But it s up to the regular guy to know what they are.”