MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida fisherman will soon be banned from killing tiger sharks and three kinds of hammerheads thanks to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The FWC approved a ban Wednesday which prohibits taking tiger sharks as well as scalloped, smooth and great hammerheads from Florida waters, which extend three miles off the Atlantic coast and nine miles off the Gulf coast.

The panel also prohibited the possession, sale and exchange of those sharks harvested from state waters. They can still be caught and released in Florida waters and taken in federal waters.

Florida already has similar restrictions for several other overfished or rare shark species. There’s also a one-a-day bag limit and ban on removing sharks’ fins that are prized for soup in Asia.

Catch-and-release fishing would still be allowed.

Shark experts, marine scientists and environmentalists all support the ban, noting populations of all four species have declined by more than half in recent decades.

Though some people see sharks as nothing more than dangerous monsters, scientists say they serve important roles at the top of the ocean food chain, keeping the ecosystem in balance. Reducing their numbers can create unexpected and unwanted ripple effects.

The new rule makes it a second-degree misdemeanor to catch and kill one of the sharks in state waters. The state is also developing an education campaign to promote safe catch-and-release using circle hooks and other gear that does less damage.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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