Shark Release Recommendations

Catch and release fishing for sharks occurs off the beaches and from boats fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays. There are steps that anglers can take to increase survival from the hook up to the moment it's released. Helpful actions that increase the likelihood of survival include:

  • using non-offset, corrodible, circle hooks;
  • Check out this shark hook study article in Fishery Bulletin
  • minimizing fight times by using the appropriate gear;
  • know your species identification​ (if you don’t know, let it go);
  • know what species are legal and illegal (if you don’t know, let it go)​;
  • don't gaff a shark that is going to be released;
  • have a release plan and make sure everyone knows their part;
  • use a dehooker;
  • don't place hands in the gills;
  • keep the shark in the water if possible;
  • minimize time outside of the water;
  • do not sit on sharks or hold their mouths open for photographs; and
  • don't drag them onto the beach.

Visit the NOAA Apex Predator website for more details on these recommendations.

In addition, the Coastal Fisheries Program has worked with Ocean City charter boat captain and founder of the Ocean City Shark Tournament, Mark Sampson, on a shark hook study. To learn more about the results of the hook study, visit our Publications page. If a shark is not going to be kept, we encourage anglers to release sharks in a manner that increases their likelihood of survival.

​Read the Careful Catch Brochure​ for more tips for safe catch and release of highly migratory species.

Dehooking a Shark - Video Courtesy of Capt. Mark Sampson