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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Catching controversy, all 1,060 pounds of it

Sad news that people still want to do something like that. In exchange for 5 minutes of fame you killed an animal that was probably as old as yourself. Watch the video report of his shark catch here.
Catching controversy, all 1,060 pounds of it
Eric Ernst, Herald-Tribune, Friday, May 15, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.

He could have moved to the middle of the boat. Instead, he leaned over the edge with a gaff hook and set off another controversy.

When fishing captain Bucky Dennis of Englewood reeled in a 1,060-pound hammerhead shark from Boca Grande Pass last week, he was going for a world record on 80-pound test line.

Shark populations worldwide have dropped 50 to 75 percent because of overfishing, so news of Dennis' latest trophy set off derisive protests, some deserved, some not.

Maybe that's part of Dennis' public relations problem. The commercial fishing industry catches sharks, cuts off their fins for Asian markets, then discards the fish to die. Worldwide, the practice has decimated shark numbers far more than Bucky Dennis ever could.

But commercial shark fishing is a faceless foe. It doesn't pose at the dock for the cameras, so no one attacks it personally.

Dennis has other PR troubles, though. The record shark he caught in 2006, a female estimated at 40 to 50 years old, was carrying 55 pups. That was also a hammerhead record, according to Mote Marine Laboratory, which reluctantly accepted the fish for research. It refused to take Dennis' latest catch, which was likely pregnant, too, experts say.

Of course, not all fishermen endorse Dennis' practice of chasing records. I asked a friend, also a charter captain, for his analysis.

"They're a thing of beauty. You don't kill them. You move to the middle of the boat."

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