Shark Fishing Confusion in Delaware


sandtiger shark, prohibited sharks in Delaware,
Sandtiger shark caught and released… photo by Jerry Taylor

I was sent an article today by ten people asking me if this were true.  Apparently it was printed in a paper that stated you can not shark fish from the surf in Delaware and that is not true.  I reached out to Stew Michels of DNREC to get a clarification on the quote in the paper.  His answer  is below.

       Thank you very much for the inquiry.  You are correct Rich.  I think there was simply some confusion in what I said.  We were chatting about shark fishing in general (maybe even surf fishing) and the regulations and I made the statement that the bottom line is that no one should be targeting a prohibited species. I think that was where I  confused her and it sounded like there is an explicit regulation banning shark surf fishing.  That said, it is unlawful to land or attempt to land a prohibited species, per 7 DE Admin Code 3541 (2.1) – see below excerpt.  These days, I  think the typical shark angler is quite ethical and responsible.   I often get calls from folks wanting to know what the best methods are for handling sharks (for the shark’s sake).  That is something we just don’t get for other species.  Last year we posted an ID guide of some of our common sharks and a brief tidbit on ethical practices ( I think folks generally have a much greater appreciation for sharks overall and really want to do the right thing.  Working with Dewayne Fox at DSU, we continue to look at methods to reduce hooking mortality.  Circle hooks just don’t appear to be as effective for some sharks as they are for other finfish.
       I hope this helps and I apologize for any confusion.  Give me a shout if you need anything else.  Enjoy the summer Rich!
Best Wishes & Fishing,

2.0 Prohibited Species

2.1 It is unlawful for any person to land, purchase, trade, barter, or possess or attempt to land, purchase, trade, barter, or possess a prohibited species.

2.2 It is unlawful for any hook and line fisherman to remove from the water sandbar shark, or any other species of shark when prohibited from harvest under §3541.

2.3 It is unlawful for any person to engage in a directed commercial fishery for a prohibited or research species.

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14 DE Reg. 193 (09/01/10)

14 DE Reg. 1385 (06/01/11)

18 DE Reg. 701 (03/01/15)



I hope this clears up any confusion and be safe out there.  I have seen several pictures of sharks where the animal is just barely out of the surf and the excuse is it was only for a few seconds.  Still against the rules.  I don’t make the rules, just trying to keep people aware of them so they do not get a ticket and stress out a protected animal.  We all know what excuses are like 😉  So don’t get mad at the messenger I try to look out for both the shark and the angler in this case.  Pictures of the shark in this area of water are also illegal as it is considered possession and you can be fined for that as well.  You can get pictures while you are “working” the shark, but posing is considered possession.  Holding it down and pulling back the mouth is also considered possession.  In all of these cases the angler knows better, the shark does not.   Please respect the animal and the rules regarding their protection and handling.


Fish On!!

Rich King

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