Young also thinks there's some species prejudice going on. "We don't do this for whales, we don't do this for elephants, we don't do this for tigers -- but yet, because this is a fish, it doesn't matter?"
Sean and Brooks Paxton -- the "Shark Brothers" -- have been working with Hueter and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation in Florida for many years to encourage catch-and-release as a best practice in sport fishing. Their first major event was the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge and Festival, which featured satellite tagging for research purposes, the mandatory use of circle hooks, and live streaming from boats to shore.
The Paxton brothers have consulted with tournament organizers all over the world to help them create entertaining and money-making all-catch-and-release events, including the Shark's Eye tournament at Montauk Marine Basin this coming weekend. "We think this event is an important point on a timeline in the evolution of recreational shark fishing. Montauk is, after all, the birthplace of this sport," says Sean. Brooks adds, "We've consulted with tournaments from South America to Florida to Ocean City, Maryland, but since this is Montauk, where it all started, this event proves that shark-release fishing is definitely catching on in an even bigger way."
The tournament is largely sponsored by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and has strong support in the community. An environmental group, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, and New York-based artist April Gornik lobbied for it, and many charter boat captains in the area have said they've been looking for something like this for a long time.
According to Montauk Marine Basin owner Carl Darenberg, this isn't the first no-kill tournament ever held in Montauk (there was one in 2006), but it is the first no-kill tournament in which all sharks will be tagged with satellite-based tracking devices. And, of course, circle hooks will be mandatory. Tagged sharks will be named by the anglers who catch them, and anyone will be able to track the sharks online via the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker. "We're trying to show fishermen that you can go out and have fun and not have to bring something in," says Darenberg, who expects Shark's Eye to be a Montauk fixture "for years to come... it's going to grow and grow and grow."
Those who support the shift to all-catch-and-release fishing tournaments say, aside from the benefit to shark populations, it's simply more satisfying to watch a shark swim away after being caught than it is to watch its carcass hang upside down on land. Wendy Benchley, whose late husband Peter gained fame for writing Jaws (and, years later, expressed dismay over the unintended consequences the story had on sharks), says, "I think these catch-and-release tournaments are much more exciting, especially if you have live stream video." With today's technology, audiences on shore can watch the anglers "bring the sharks alongside the boat, and wrestle with them, and wrangle them to figure out how long they are. And then to watch everybody cheer on the boat and on shore as the shark goes off to patrol the seas for another day is really exhilarating."