Man arrested for harpooning mako shark

Short finned mako Photo:Mark Conlin, SWFSC Large Pelagics Program
Short finned mako Photo:Mark Conlin, SWFSC Large Pelagics Program

Russell Robert Stewart III has been arrested for allegedly taking a 505-pound short finned Mako shark with a harpoon off the coast of Panama City Beach Florida.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received an anonymous tip that someone had posted a video to Facebook where a shark had been harpooned.

According to Florida state law the attempted harvest or harvest of any shark in state waters is prohibited except by the use of hook and line gear.

Officer staked out the Panama City pass. That is when they saw a boat sail through with a shark’s tail hanging over the edge.

The boat “Gag Reflex” was then stopped for a fishery inspection.

Stewart confirmed that he had “harpooned” the shark and it was being taken to a commercial harvester and the meat sold.

The FWC officers cited Mr. Stewart for commercially harvesting the shark without a federal permit and harvesting the shark with a harpoon.

Both the harpoon and shark were seized.

The FWC was paid $757.00 for the shark meat which was placed into an escrow account for the agency.

The video will not be released as it the case is still under investigation.


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