Is It Legal To Catch Sharks In Florida?

Are you wondering if it’s legal to catch sharks in Florida? Look no further for answers. In this guide, we will provide you with the necessary information regarding shark fishing regulations in the Sunshine State. Learn about the specific laws and requirements for catching and harvesting sharks, including size limits, bag limits, and permitted fishing methods. Stay informed and navigate the waters of shark fishing in Florida with confidence.

is it legal to catch sharks in florida

Shark Fishing Regulations in Florida: Know the Rules

Florida is well-known for its incredible fishing opportunities, and shark fishing is no exception. With its vast coastline and diverse marine ecosystem, the state attracts anglers from all over the world. However, it’s important to understand and abide by the regulations set in place to protect both the shark population and the environment. In this section, we will discuss the rules and regulations regarding shark fishing in Florida.

1. Fishing License Requirements

Before casting your line in Florida’s waters, it is important to ensure that you have the appropriate fishing license. In general, anyone aged 16 and older is required to have a valid saltwater fishing license. Non-residents may also need to obtain a shoreline fishing license. Additionally, if you choose to fish from a boat, you may need a separate boat fishing license.

2. Protected Shark Species

Florida has strict regulations in place to protect certain shark species. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with these protected species to avoid any unintentional violations. Some of the protected shark species in Florida include the great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, silky shark, and the lemon shark. These species may not be harvested and must be released immediately if caught.

3. Size and Bag Limits

Shark fishing in Florida is subject to size and bag limits, which vary depending on the species you are targeting. It is essential to accurately measure the shark and adhere to the specific size restrictions. Additionally, there are bag limits that determine the number of sharks you are allowed to keep per day. These limits are in place to prevent overfishing and ensure the sustainability of shark populations.

4. Prohibited Methods and Gear

Florida prohibits certain methods and gear when it comes to shark fishing. These regulations aim to protect both sharks and other marine life. The use of gaffs, wire leaders, and certain types of hooks is not allowed when targeting sharks. Using non-offset, non-stainless-steel circle hooks is mandatory to reduce the risk of injury to the shark and increase the chances of survival if released.

5. Catch and Release Best Practices

When engaging in shark fishing, it is essential to prioritize catch and release practices to minimize harm to the sharks and the overall ecosystem. It is recommended to keep the shark in the water as much as possible during the release process and use proper techniques to ensure the shark’s safe return to the water. It’s crucial to handle the shark with care, avoiding touching its gills or eyes, as these are sensitive areas.

6. Reporting Tagged Sharks

If you happen to catch a shark with a tag, it is important to report the tag information. Tagged sharks play a vital role in scientific research and conservation efforts. By reporting the tag number, location, and other details, you contribute to the understanding and management of shark populations. Contacting the appropriate organization, such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, will provide you with the necessary instructions for reporting.

7. Responsible Fishing Practices

While shark fishing can be an exhilarating experience, it is crucial to practice responsible fishing. This includes respecting other anglers, following all fishing regulations, and leaving the fishing area clean and free of any trash or discarded fishing gear. By adopting responsible fishing practices, we can ensure the sustainability of shark populations for future generations.


Shark fishing in Florida offers exciting opportunities for anglers, but it is important to be aware of and comply with the regulations in place. Obtaining the necessary fishing licenses, being familiar with protected species, adhering to size and bag limits, and using proper catch and release practices are all crucial for preserving the shark population and the marine ecosystem. Remember, responsible fishing ensures the sustainability of this thrilling activity for years to come.

Permits and Licenses: How to Legally Catch Sharks in Florida

Catching sharks can be an exhilarating experience for anglers, but it’s important to remember that there are regulations in place to ensure the sustainability of shark populations. In Florida, there are specific permits and licenses required to legally catch sharks. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to obtain the necessary permits and licenses to enjoy shark fishing in Florida.

1. Florida Saltwater Fishing License

Before embarking on any fishing trip in Florida, including shark fishing, anglers must first obtain a valid Florida Saltwater Fishing License. This license is available for both residents and non-residents and can be purchased online through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website or at authorized retail outlets.

2. Shore-Based Shark Fishing Permit

If you plan to catch sharks from the shore, you will need to acquire a Shore-Based Shark Fishing Permit. This permit is free but requires an online application through the FWC website. The permit is valid for one year and allows anglers to fish for sharks from shore without a boat.

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3. Charter Boat or Headboat License

If you prefer to go shark fishing on a charter boat or headboat, the vessel you board must have a valid Charter Boat or Headboat License. It is the responsibility of the captain or owner of the vessel to obtain the appropriate license, which allows them to take paying passengers on fishing trips, including shark fishing excursions.

4. Federal Shark Endorsement

For anglers targeting certain species of sharks regulated by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a Federal Shark Endorsement is required. This endorsement is necessary if you intend to keep or land sharks that are prohibited from harvest. The endorsement can be obtained by completing a separate application through the NMFS website.

5. Gear and Size Restrictions

When shark fishing in Florida, it’s vital to adhere to gear and size restrictions to protect the shark population. The use of certain gear, such as gill nets or longlines, is strictly prohibited. Additionally, there are minimum size limits for different shark species that must be met in order to legally keep the catch. It is essential to familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure compliance.

6. Reporting Requirements

Anglers who catch certain species of sharks are required to report their catch. These reporting requirements help scientists and fisheries managers gather important data on shark populations. The reporting process can be done online through the FWC’s Saltwater Angler Recognition Program or by calling the provided phone number to report the catch details.

7. Conservation and Ethical Practices

While it’s legal to catch sharks in Florida with the proper permits and licenses, it’s essential to practice responsible and ethical fishing. This includes handling the sharks with care, releasing them safely and quickly if they are not within legal size limits or prohibited species, and promoting conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures for future generations to enjoy.

In summary, if you wish to legally catch sharks in Florida, make sure to obtain the necessary permits and licenses. This includes the Florida Saltwater Fishing License, the Shore-Based Shark Fishing Permit, and the Federal Shark Endorsement if applicable. Adhere to the gear and size restrictions, report your catch as required, and practice ethical fishing to ensure the sustainability of shark populations. With the proper permits and responsible practices, you can enjoy an exciting and memorable shark fishing experience in the beautiful waters of Florida.

Protected Shark Species in Florida: What You Should Avoid

Florida is known for its beautiful beaches and diverse marine life, including sharks. While sharks are a crucial part of the ocean ecosystem, some species are protected by Florida state laws to ensure their conservation. It is essential for visitors and locals alike to be aware of these protected shark species and understand what activities to avoid to help preserve their populations.

1. Great Hammerhead Shark

The Great Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna mokarran) is one of the largest and most distinctive shark species found in Florida’s waters. It is listed as a protected species due to its vulnerable status. Identifiable by its wide, hammer-shaped head, this species is primarily found in coastal areas, including bays, estuaries, and coral reefs.

When encountering a Great Hammerhead Shark, it is crucial to maintain a respectful distance and avoid any direct interaction. Feeding or baiting these sharks is strictly prohibited as it can disrupt their natural foraging behavior and lead to harmful dependence on humans for food.

2. Lemon Shark

The Lemon Shark (Negaprion brevirostris) is another protected species commonly found in Florida’s coastal waters, especially in mangrove habitats and shallow bays. These sharks are known for their yellowish-brown coloration and powerful jaws. They play a vital role in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems.

To protect Lemon Sharks and their habitats, it is essential to avoid any activities that may harm or disturb them. This includes fishing in areas where they are known to congregate or intentionally pursuing them for sport. Responsible boating practices, such as avoiding shallow areas where they may be resting or breeding, also help protect their populations.

3. Sand Tiger Shark

The Sand Tiger Shark (Carcharias taurus) is a protected species found off the coast of Florida. Despite its name, this shark poses little threat to humans and is known for its docile behavior. Sand Tiger Sharks are easily recognizable by their slender body, long tail, and protruding teeth.

When encountering a Sand Tiger Shark, it is important to maintain a respectful distance and avoid any actions that may stress or harm the shark. This includes avoiding direct contact, such as touching or attempting to ride the shark, as well as any activities that may disrupt their natural behavior, such as flash photography.

4. Sawfish

Sawfish are a unique and endangered species that inhabit the waters of South Florida. They are characterized by their long, tooth-studded rostrum, resembling a saw. Sawfish are protected under both state and federal regulations due to their critically endangered status.

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Interactions with Sawfish should be strictly avoided to prevent any harm to these vulnerable creatures. If you accidentally encounter a Sawfish while fishing, it is crucial to release them immediately and report the sighting to the appropriate authorities to contribute to conservation efforts.


As visitors or residents of Florida, it is our responsibility to protect and preserve the diverse shark species that inhabit our coastal waters. By respecting the protected status of sharks such as the Great Hammerhead, Lemon Shark, Sand Tiger Shark, and Sawfish, we can contribute to their conservation and ensure their survival for future generations.

Remember, maintaining a safe distance, avoiding any interactions or disturbances, and adhering to fishing regulations are essential when encountering these protected shark species. Let us work together to promote responsible and sustainable practices that protect these majestic creatures and the fragile ecosystems they call home.

Best Practices for Catching and Releasing Sharks Safely in Florida

Shark fishing is a popular recreational activity in Florida, attracting anglers from around the world. However, it is essential to practice responsible and sustainable fishing techniques to ensure the safety of both the sharks and the fishermen. In this section, we will discuss the best practices for catching and releasing sharks safely in Florida.

1. Use Appropriate Gear and Tackle

When targeting sharks, it is crucial to use sturdy equipment that can handle the strength and size of these apex predators. Use heavy-duty fishing rods and reels with a high line capacity, capable of withstanding the force exerted by a shark during the fight. Additionally, use strong and reliable hooks, such as circle hooks, which are designed to minimize injury to the shark while still ensuring a solid hook set.

2. Know the Regulations

Before heading out for shark fishing, familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and restrictions in your area. Florida has specific rules regarding shark fishing, including size limits, bag limits, and protected species. Ensure that you are aware of these regulations and adhere to them to promote conservation and sustainable fishing practices.

3. Handle Sharks with Care

When handling a shark, always prioritize safety for both yourself and the shark. Avoid placing your hands near the shark’s mouth, as they have rows of sharp teeth that can cause severe injury. Instead, use long-handled pliers or dehooking tools to safely remove the hook from the shark’s mouth. Keep the shark in the water throughout the process to prevent unnecessary stress and harm.

4. Minimize Fight Time

Proper handling includes minimizing the fight time as much as possible. Exhausting a shark through a long fight can lead to stress and exhaustion, increasing the risk of mortality after release. Use appropriate tackle and skill to bring the shark in quickly while maintaining a fair and challenging fight. Aim to release the shark as soon as possible to ensure its well-being.

5. Revive the Shark Before Release

After successfully landing a shark, it is important to revive it before releasing it back into the water. Keep the shark in the water, ensuring a continuous flow of oxygen over its gills. Move the shark gently back and forth to facilitate water flow through its respiratory system. This process helps the shark regain its strength, increasing its chances of survival after release.

6. Document and Share Responsibly

While it can be exciting to capture memorable moments through photographs, it is crucial to handle sharks with care and respect. Avoid excessive handling and never remove the shark from the water solely for the purpose of taking a picture. Instead, take quick photos while the shark is in the water, ensuring minimal stress and harm. Remember, the well-being of the shark should always take precedence over a photo opportunity. In summary, responsible shark fishing in Florida involves using appropriate gear, adhering to regulations, handling sharks with care, minimizing fight time, reviving the shark before release, and documenting and sharing responsibly. By following these best practices, anglers can enjoy the thrill of shark fishing while promoting the conservation and sustainability of these incredible creatures. Let’s protect Florida’s shark population for future generations to come.

Sustainable Shark Fishing in Florida: Balancing Conservation and Recreation

Sharks have long fascinated people with their mysterious nature and powerful presence. Their role in the marine ecosystem is crucial, making them an important species for conservation efforts. However, Florida faces a unique challenge – balancing the need for shark conservation with the popularity of shark fishing as a recreational activity. In this section, we will explore the concept of sustainable shark fishing and how Florida is striving to find a balance between conservation and recreation.

The Importance of Sustainable Shark Fishing

Sustainable shark fishing refers to the practice of catching and harvesting sharks in a way that maintains the long-term health and stability of shark populations and their ecosystems. It involves implementing regulations, guidelines, and best practices to ensure that the fishing activity does not harm shark populations or their habitats.

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Sharks play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems. As apex predators, they help regulate the populations of other marine species, keeping the ecosystem in check. Overfishing or unregulated shark fishing can disrupt this delicate balance, leading to negative ecological consequences. Sustainable shark fishing is therefore vital to protect both sharks and the overall health of the marine environment.

The Challenges of Balancing Conservation and Recreation

Florida is known for its thriving recreational fishing industry, and shark fishing is a significant part of it. The thrill of catching a shark attracts anglers from all over the world. However, this popularity poses challenges for shark conservation efforts.

Sharks have slow reproductive rates, making them vulnerable to overfishing. Some species, such as the great white shark or the tiger shark, are also listed as threatened or endangered under federal or state regulations. This necessitates a careful approach to shark fishing to ensure the sustainability of their populations.

Another challenge is the impact that shark fishing can have on the ecosystem. Improper handling, release, or waste disposal practices can harm not only the sharks but also other marine species. This includes leaving fishing lines or hooks in the water, which can entangle or injure other animals.

Efforts towards Sustainable Shark Fishing in Florida

Recognizing the need to balance conservation and recreation, Florida has taken steps to promote sustainable shark fishing practices. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) plays a crucial role in regulating shark fishing activities.

The FWC has implemented strict regulations on shark fishing, including size and bag limits, restricted areas, and permits. These measures aim to prevent overfishing, protect vulnerable shark species, and ensure the sustainability of shark populations.

In addition to regulations, education and outreach programs have been put in place to promote responsible shark fishing. Anglers are encouraged to learn about the importance of shark conservation, proper handling techniques, and the ecological impact of their actions. By raising awareness and providing resources, Florida aims to empower anglers to become stewards of the ocean.

Collaboration for a Sustainable Future

While state regulations are essential, the responsibility for sustainable shark fishing extends beyond government agencies. Collaboration between anglers, charter operators, conservation organizations, and researchers is crucial for long-term success.

Charter operators play a significant role in promoting sustainable practices among anglers. They can educate their clients about responsible fishing techniques, including proper catch-and-release methods, minimizing stress on the sharks, and reducing bycatch.

Conservation organizations and researchers contribute to the knowledge and understanding of shark populations and their habitats. Their research helps inform policy decisions and ensure that conservation efforts are based on scientific evidence.


Sustainable shark fishing in Florida requires a delicate balance between conservation and recreation. The state recognizes the ecological importance of sharks and the need to protect their populations. Through strict regulations, education, and collaboration between various stakeholders, Florida is working towards a sustainable future for shark fishing.


Is it legal to catch sharks in Florida?

Yes, it is generally legal to catch sharks in Florida, but there are regulations in place. Certain species of sharks are protected, and there are size and bag limits that need to be followed. It is important to check and adhere to the specific rules and regulations set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

What are the size and bag limits for catching sharks in Florida?

The size and bag limits for catching sharks in Florida vary depending on the species. For most species, the minimum size limit is 54 inches fork length, and the bag limit is one shark per person per day. However, there are exceptions and specific rules for certain species, so it is important to consult the regulations set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Are there any protected species of sharks in Florida?

Yes, there are protected species of sharks in Florida. Some of the protected species include great white sharks, basking sharks, whale sharks, and sawfish. These species are protected under the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations, and it is illegal to catch or harm them. It is important to familiarize yourself with the protected species list and follow the regulations to ensure conservation and protection of these sharks.


In conclusion, catching sharks in Florida is legal under certain conditions and regulations. While it is permitted to catch sharks for recreational purposes, there are specific rules regarding size limits, bag limits, and protected species. It is crucial for anglers to be aware of and adhere to these guidelines to ensure the sustainability and conservation of shark populations. Additionally, it is important to handle and release sharks safely and responsibly to minimize harm to these magnificent creatures. Overall, shark fishing can be an exhilarating and enjoyable activity for anglers in Florida, as long as it is done within the legal framework and with conservation in mind.