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Maryland Fishermen Say New Regulations Would Cripple Industry

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The large dusky shark has been designated as Vulnerable by the American Fisheries Society, and are often caught in the pursuit of similar species like mako sharks.
Richard Ling: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rling/7285360112/
The large dusky shark has been designated as Vulnerable by the American Fisheries Society, and are often caught in the pursuit of similar species like mako sharks.

Fishermen on Maryland's coast have voiced concern this week, after the federal government proposed a new regulation that would nearly double the minimum size of sharks that would be considered keepers.

Simply put, if this proposal becomes law, any shark less than 96 inches or 8 feet long would have to be thrown back.

The reason: the often-misidentified dusky shark. Scientists say dusky shark numbers are dwindling to dangerous levels, even though their capture has been prohibited for more than 12 years.

But commercial fisherman like Ocean City captain Mark Sampson say this change in the law could put him out of business and essentially cripple the industry.

"A 96 inch fork length mako is going to be somewhere around 350-360 pounds," Sampson says. "In Maryland last year, nobody broke 300 pounds. So that means in all of 2012, not a single mako shark would have been caught in Maryland and Delaware that would qualify under the new regulations."

Samspon contests that NOAA's data on the dusky shark is completely flawed, but as of now, the new regulations are scheduled to take effect in April.

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