Gill net probably responsible for dozens of sharks found washed up on beach

Gill net probably responsible for dozens of sharks found washed up on beach

Chris Blankenship, head of the Alabama Division of Marine Resources said that the several dozen sharks discovered washed up on Mobile Bay’s western shore have apparently been killed in a gill net.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab scientists recognized the sharks as young-of-the-year juvenile bull sharks, which are extremely common in Mobile Bay, one of the most significant shark nursery areas in the Gulf.

State officials said that a few of the sharks on the beach were still trapped into the net, which was detected on a beach between Fowl River and the Theodore Industrial Canal. The rest of the sharks washed up alongside the net, had marks on their heads and bodies suggesting that they were also trapped in the net.Many of the sharks were buried by residents before the officials came to know about the incident.

Fishermen often use a gill net, a long monofilament curtain that goes down in the water, mostly from the surface to the seafloor. Fish get into the invisible netting head initially, and when their gills pass via a hole in the net, they are generally unable to escape, thus have been dubbed ‘gill net’.

Alabama is the sole Gulf state where the year round use of gillnets is allowed. Gill nets were banned in all the other Gulf states or severely restricted gill nets around 1995 following the protests conducted by recreational fishing groups and conservationists.

Recently, Alabama halted gill net licenses, and bought out several license holders. But, nearly 90 commercial permits stayed active, trapping mostly mullet and Spanish mackerel. Additionally, there are nearly 500 recreational permits.


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