FISHING EXPERTS SAY NO NEED TO FEAR CHUMMING BOATS
By this time every summer, beach visitors and lifeguards spot charter fishing boats close to shore dumping fish guts and other bait — known as chum — into the ocean typically to attract sharks. Is this alarming or not a big deal?
For starters, Capt. Douglas Messeck of the DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police says this issue comes up every year and no laws prohibit such activity, although a town could pass an ordinance regulating such activity. The only obvious law that might currently come into play, he notes, requires all vessels to observe a slow/no-wake speed within 100 feet of any shoreline, swimmer, structure or vessel. The boats are not prohibited from fishing close to shore, but he also points out that the vessels typically appear closer than they actually are.
“If people could see what the banner plane pilots see they would not go into the water,” King adds. “Boats chum them up but not anymore than they already are. The area in front of Rehoboth Beach is a popular place to fish for them.”
Capt. Messeck says the sharks are already there in the water and the fishermen are simply trying to lure them to the boat. It is not something we should be alarmed about, he says, adding that swimmers should worry more about suffering spinal injuries or getting caught by a fish hook.
Rich King of Delaware Surf Fishing agrees with Capt. Messeck. “I would not be concerned at all,” King states. The fishing boats “have been doing this forever. The sharks they are targeting live very close to the shoreline… If this were a problem it would have been an issue years ago. Sharks do not target people for food.”
“If people could see what the banner plane pilots see they would not go into the water,” King adds. “Boats chum them up but not anymore than they already are. The area in front of Rehoboth Beach is a popular place to fish for them.” MORE