An Atlantis Marine World and New York Aquarium crew prepares to...

An Atlantis Marine World and New York Aquarium crew prepares to release a young sand tiger shark back into the ocean about 2 miles off Shinnecock Inlet in 2002. Credit: Newsday / John H. Cornell Jr.

New York State officials announced new regulations Wednesday for how to legally fish for sharks amid a recent increase in the appearance of the predators off Long Island's Atlantic shoreline.

The new Department of Environmental Conservation rules for ocean anglers aim to reduce stress and injuries to protected and endangered shark species when they are captured and then released.

The rules, which also govern fishing gear, are also designed to "maintain recreational opportunities" for legal shark species, officials said.

All prohibited sharks must be immediately released back into the wild, according to the new rules. Sport fishing enthusiasts must keep any shark not being taken in the water with its gills submerged, except for smooth and spiny dogfish.

Recreational shark anglers must keep wire or bolt cutters available to free sharks from tackles and fishing lines and anglers must take precautions to improve survival rates for released sharks.

Shore anglers may no longer use metal fishing leaders attached to baited hooks longer than 18 inches. Chumming with blood and bait is prohibited within 600 feet of the shoreline, except using mollusks and other shellfish. And fishermen may not use baited hooks other than by casting them by rod and reel, state officials said.

“Sharks are vital to the health of our marine systems, but are at great risk from mishandling and use of inappropriate fishing gear by recreational anglers,” interim DEC Commissioner Sean Mahar said. “The rules released today enhance protections for vulnerable shark species by requiring safe shark handling protocols and restricting gear and practices posing the greatest threat to sharks.” 

State officials said the regulations are designed to protect sandbar, dusky and sand tiger sharks, which are listed as vulnerable and in need of conservation.

Such species have been illegal to capture, kill or pursue by fishermen under state law since 2010. They are prohibited due to their slow growth, late maturity, long prenatal development periods and very low reproduction rates.

“Sharks have long played an important role in the healthy functioning of New York’s diverse ocean ecosystem. But many of the 27 shark species in our local waters have been severely reduced by overfishing and will take decades to recover,” said Merry Camhi, director of the New York Seascape Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which he said supports the new regulations.

Recreational shark fisherman Chris Stefanou, 28, of Massapequa, calls himself the "Long Island shark man." He said he supports preservation efforts, but argued that certain measures such as only allowing cast and reel fishing go too far after he previously used kayak and drone baiting offshore. 

"I think it’s not going to do anything to protect the sharks. People are still catching sharks and shark fishing will still prevail," Stefanou said. 

Stefanou said he catches about 1,000 sharks every summer off Long Island including those that he releases back into the ocean. 

He said sand sharks have become more common and are now joined more frequently by larger bull sharks and even hammerheads swimming closer to shore in search of bait fish in more shallow waters.

He said protecting certain species and practicing proper catch and release procedures, such as not pulling sharks onto shore, will help preserve the shark population in coordination with smart fishing activities.

"I think shark fishing is a great way to introduce the community and a new generation to the outdoors," Stefanou said. "It's a sport and everyone loves to do it. It's exhilarating and an adrenaline rush to be out on the beach."

Fisherman facing prison … Nassau extends red light cameras … Summer attractions Credit: Newsday

Updated 47 minutes ago Heuermann house searched ... Palm Tree Music Festival bid denied ... Nassau 911 call system back up ... School budget preview

Fisherman facing prison … Nassau extends red light cameras … Summer attractions Credit: Newsday

Updated 47 minutes ago Heuermann house searched ... Palm Tree Music Festival bid denied ... Nassau 911 call system back up ... School budget preview

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME