Stop Mark the Shark! Ban the harvest of hammerheads and tiger sharks in federal waters!

Stop Mark the Shark! Ban the harvest of hammerheads and tiger sharks in federal waters!

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Gigi Gonzalez started this petition to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and

Miami local, charter boat captain, and internet personality Mark the Shark regularly kills protected sharks, despite their dwindling numbers in the wild. The self-proclaimed "shark hunter" and "#1 fishing adventure in Miami" has 170k followers on instagram where he uses slogans like "tourist lives matter" and "keeping the beach safe" in his captions under photos of half-dead sharks. Anybody who disagrees with him gets harassed by him and his fans, even if it's a child. Mark's actions and attitude towards protected sharks are harmful for us and for our oceans for various reasons. 

  1. Sharks are vital apex predators. Without their presence, fish populations would exhaust their food supplies and overwhelm the local ecosystem. There is evidence suggesting that the absence of sharks has a negative effect on coral reefs. Coral reefs are under tremendous pressure from warming oceans as it is. Additionally, our vibrant coastal fish communities and coral reefs draw in tourists, and we must preserve them for future generations.  
  2. He posts pictures of half-dead and dead hammerhead sharks, which are prohibited, on his website and on social media. A prohibited species should not be removed from the water. Yet he frequently drags them into a boat or strings them up. He gets away with this  because it is often unclear exactly where the shark was caught, and he claims to be outside of FWC's jurisdiction. There are pictures on his social media of protected hammerheads hanging from his vessel near the beach however, 
  3. According to the International Shark Attack File, humans have been subject to 17 documented, unprovoked attacks by hammerhead sharks since 1580 AD. No human fatalities have been recorded. There is no need to cull these crucial predators when they are extremely unlikely to hurt any swimmers. On the contrary, their presence attracts diving enthusiasts. 
  4. He is using misinformation to justify his actions. Sharks are not as dangerous as Hollywood would have you believe. While movies like “Jaws” are fun to watch, they have ignited anti-shark sentiment and fears that lead to the destruction of these critical predators. The number of yearly shark attacks simply does not back up the notion that these integral animals are a meaningful threat. Waters are not "shark infested," that is simply where sharks live. 
  5. Not only that, but he is using social media to spread his fear-mongering. He even has fan pages on Instagram dedicated to glorifying his practices. These fans call sharks “numskulls,” and "monsters," while complaining of “too many sharks.” There is no reason for this witch-hunt but his business glorifies it.  
  6. He is profiting off of their destruction. He charges people for “Instagram’s #1 most exciting charter boat.” where he takes tourists to kill sharks for tacky vacation pictures. To add insult to injury, he frequently photographs dead sharks next to bikini-clad models he invites onto his boat, further glorifying his killing.  
  7. He also justifies his actions by donating the meat of protected apex predators to homeless people and organizations like Camillus House. He also claims to regularly help scientists. It is common knowledge that when tagging hammerheads you DO NOT take them out of the water because they are vulnerable to the trauma. What kind of scientist could possibly support his methods? There is no justification for his treatment of protected sharks. 

Unfortunately, this is not illegal. While many efforts have been made to appeal to his sense of decency, he continues his destructive behavior. FWC cannot stop him because he catches them outside of their jurisdiction.

We cannot allow one man’s egotistical monster-hunter fantasy to wreak havoc on our coastal waters and on the public's perception of sharks. We need a federal law banning the harvest of hammerheads and tiger sharks from waters. 

I understand that there are other factors affecting sharks in South Florida. However, I believe debunking harmful myths about sharks is an extremely important part of this complex issue. We need to get over the idea that sharks are monsters that need culling before we can move forward with meaningful change. As the #1 shark hunter in the United States, Mark the Shark is symbolic of these outdated perceptions.

I urge you to not support his business. 

I urge Instagram to stop giving him a platform. He often harasses people who speak out against him. Instagram does not tolerate cyberbullying or harassment, but they haven't taken any action against him. He is using Instagram to cyberbully his opposition, including children, and to perpetuate the myth that sharks are monsters that need culling. 

I want my children to enjoy the same oceans I love and I want your children and their children to enjoy them too. Thank you for taking the time to read my petition. Email me at ggonz385@fiu.edu if you want to see photo evidence of his actions. 

Sources:

www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/scalloped-hammerhead-shark

https://oceana.org/marine-life/sharks-rays/great-hammerhead-shark

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11160-018-9530-5

https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/sharks/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140130141315.htm

http://www.eregulations.com/florida/fishing/19flsw2/new-shark-regulations/

0 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!
At 7,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get a reaction from the decision maker!