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(Contributed Photo from 2021 Yarmouth Shark Scramble)

No more Yarmouth Shark Scramble as DFO regulations change

By Kevin Northup Jul 13, 2023 | 11:04 AM

A popular event will no longer take place on the Yarmouth waterfront.

The Shark Scramble tournament would have held its 25th event next month.

Organizer Bob Gavel says DFO stopped issuing licenses to fish blue sharks because they no longer need the science.

He says they have worked closely with the department, even reducing their shark count in recent years.

“To my knowledge, from what I gather from science, the population of blue sharks is in good standing. There is no reason in my opinion for this tournament not to take place,” said Gavel.

About 100 people took part in last year’s tournament, and over 40 sharks were landed.

Gavel says it’s tough to swallow, considering the event drew thousands of people to the area every August.

“It wasn’t just tourists, local spectators were also very supportive. We also provided education on sharks to kids.”

A catch and release option was given, but Gavel notes it would be too dangerous for crew members.

The sharks would also need to be used for food, but he says it’s not something that’s really eaten.

The following is a response from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

In previous years, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has authorized shark tournaments through the issuance of scientific licences under section 52 of the Fishery General Regulations as a way to support the Department’s science requirements. However the Department’s research program no longer requires new sampling through this licence, and we communicated this to shark tournament organizers and other stakeholders last year.

DFO provided shark tournament organizers three alternative options for holding authorized shark derbies:

  1. tournaments authorized through the issuance of a recreational licence that permits catch and release, which would allow tagging, but not landing;
  2. tournaments authorized through the issuance of a recreational licence that permits retention, which requires human consumption of the catch in order to avoid waste; and,
  3. tournaments authorized through the issuance of a scientific licence, with the support of another organization (or DFO in the future, as needed) that requests scientific study of a shark, that would require the shark to be landed in circumstances outside commercial fishery bycatch.

The decision to proceed or not with any of these options (and the request for any applicable required license) rests with shark tournament organizers.

A technical report describing the data collected at blue shark tournaments can be found here: https://waves-vagues.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/library-bibliotheque/41093501.pdf

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