The Complete Guide To Shark Fishing Regulations In Florida


Recreational Shark fishing.

It’s one of the most controversial topics on social media when it comes to fishing.

Since Salt Strong has one of the largest saltwater fishing groups on Facebook (you can join it here), there isn’t a week that goes by where there isn’t some arguing about a shark picture that gets posted.

Almost without fail, most shark pictures get one of the following comments on social media:

  • “That’s not a (insert shark species that the angler posting the picture claimed it was) shark. That’s a (insert a different type of shark)… “
  • “Why didn’t you release the shark? What are you planning on doing with it?
  • “Shame on you for keeping that shark…”
  • “That shark is too small to keep...”
shark fishing regulations
Baby hammerhead shark about to be released

And don’t even get me started with the knuckleheads who decided it would be funny to drag a shark behind the boat at high speeds…

Talk about hurling even controversy and anger from the animal rights activists to all of us fishermen who so dearly love our sport.

I personally believe there is so much confusion and controversy because there are three camps in the shark fishing arena who all have different views.

  • Shark Camp 1: Fishermen who love catching sharks and who truly are conservation focused. These are the anglers who help catch and tag sharks, that safely release sharks, and who have nothing but admiration for the entire shark family.
  • Shark Camp 2: Fishermen who love catching sharks to kill them, sell the meat, sell the fins, etc. – their sole focus is taking as many sharks out of the water as possible.
  • Shark Camp 3: Animal rights activist groups who want to eliminate shark fishing completely.

Regardless of what camp you are, you can’t argue with the official shark regulations for recreational anglers.

So here are the official shark fishing rules and regulations from NOAA.

Recreational Shark Fishing Regulations

shark fishing regulations

Thankfully, the good folks over at NOAA Fisheries (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) have put together a comprehensive chart showing all of the rules on sharks for both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

The best news is that it comes with pictures of the sharks (so no more having to guess what shark you caught – hopefully this will end some of the arguing on social media about shark species).

Below you will how to properly identify Atlantic and Gulf sharks along with exactly which sharks are prohibited to keep.

U.S. Shark Identification (Atlantic & Gulf Of Mexico)

Note #1: click any of the images below to see the full NOAA Fisheries PDF

Note #2: these are the federal regulations for U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico (so more than just Florida)

recreational shark fishing

recreational shark fishing

Prohibited Sharks

Note: click on the images below to get the full NOAA PDF.

shark identification

Note: Image sources: NOAA Fisheries


“If You Don’t Know, Let It Go”

shark fishing regulations
A young mako shark about to be released back into the water

If you learned anything from this great info from NOAA, let it be this…

“If you don’t’ know, let it go.”

If you catch a shark and you aren’t 100% sure what it is, then let it go.

And certainly don’t post a picture of it on Facebook and ask for a Fish ID and expect to get a correct answer in time for a safe release.

When in doubt, throw it back and always make sure to have some form of shark identification handy if you are shark fishing.

Hope this was helpful.

Any questions on shark fishing regulations?

Let us know in the comments below.

Note: You can find copies of these PDFs on the NOAA site here:

P.S. – If you think your angler friends or fishing networks would benefit seeing this, please Tag them or Share this with them.

Fish On!

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Capt Eddie
3 years ago

I just found a five foot nurse shark on the bottom behind my house that had been caught, stabbed to death in the head, and thrown back in the water. Is this illegal or just unethical?

Adam Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Capt Eddie

I’m sorry to hear that happened. The legality depends on the regulations for where you live. It’s at least a needless waste.

Dan Friberg
5 years ago

Sharks get a bad rap cause people do stupid things ,like go in the water when sharks have been sighted or when sharks are feeding ,like at night ,or when there are large schools of fish around .

5 years ago

4th type. I love grilled shark and only keep one occasionally. All others released with the utmost of care.

Danny Costello
10 months ago
Reply to  Raft

I agree. Maybe 1 a year, all the rest properly released.


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