Monday, July 31, 2017

Rick Scott asks for rules review after 'disturbing' video of shark dragging

Posted By on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 at 10:03 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE VIA FLICKR
  • Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Gov. Rick Scott wants state wildlife officials to review regulations after watching a "disturbing video" showing a "hateful act" in which a shark is dragged at high speeds through Florida waters.

"This week, an incredibly disturbing video was reported by the media showing individuals senselessly dragging a shark behind their boat at high speed," Scott wrote in a letter Friday to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Brian Yablonski. "The brutality and disrespect shown to this animal is sickening and I am sure that you share my outrage over these individuals' heinous actions."

The state agency is already investigating the incident.

The governor, noting that some people "irresponsibly and recklessly abuse" the state's natural resources, encouraged Yablonski to review state fishing regulations and laws to "ensure such inhumane acts are strictly prohibited."

If not, the state may need to make changes, Scott suggested.

"I know that FWC law enforcement works to protect all of Florida's wildlife and we need to make certain they have the tools to ensure Florida has the best fisheries in the world," Scott wrote.

Yablonski responded Friday the commission will move forward to strengthen its regulations where needed "to help deter this type of behavior in the future."

"Florida is a sportsman's destination and there is no place in Florida for these kinds of callous acts," Yablonski said in a prepared statement.

The video, which has gone viral on social media, shows a shark being dragged on a rope behind a boat while men laugh as the shark's body smacks into the water.

"These individuals do not represent the sentiments and conscientious actions of millions of conservation-minded anglers around the world," Yablonski said.

Yablonski also reaffirmed a prior statement from the commission that an investigation is underway.

The agency has cautioned that it is too early determine if any violations occurred during the "disheartening and disturbing" event.

"Our Division of Law Enforcement has now identified the individuals in the video, and are currently conducting an investigation into this incident," the agency said Wednesday in a Facebook post. "Since the investigation is active, we can't confirm the identities of the individuals, and it is too early to speculate as to what, if any, violations took place in this incident."

In the Facebook post, the agency thanked the public for "an overwhelming number of calls, emails, social media messages and posts" after the video went viral.

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