HOLDEN BEACH, NC (WWAY) — A controversial shore-based shark fishing tournament that was scheduled to begin this weekend has been moved.
A land shark fishing tournament scheduled for July 15 involves leaders from Oak Island, Ocean Isle and the beaches of Holden and Caswell.
Holden Beach Mayor Alan Holden said the tournament was not good for business, especially during peak tourist season.
“Sharks and people swimming along the coastline don’t mix,” Holden said. “We don’t want any bad press, and no one in their right mind will bring their kids here to swim.”
John Legge runs a business in Holden Beach that depends on tourists.
“Being a big family beach, this shark fishing on the beach while there are guests here is just not a good idea,” Legge said.
Dale Schofield traveled from Ohio specifically to fish, both on and off.
While he understands the concern, canceling a tournament like this can hurt the local economy.
“It’s amazing the revenue it brings to a region,” he said. “If someone wants to organize a tournament in a region, more power for him.”
According to event organizer Marty Wright, who also owns Madkings Tackle Shop and sponsors the event, anglers could catch sharks from Ocean Isle Beach to Oak Island.
Participants would only use baitfish dropped from kayaks about 300 to 600 feet offshore.
“We don’t use chum, the sharks are already there,” Wright said. “And our waters are infested with sharks.”
Wright said he does not personally fish for sharks and will not profit from the event, but wants to run the event for his clients and fellow anglers.
“Pull a band and release them, they film their hold, then they catch, then they release them.”
Wright said he received a call from the mayor of Oak Island asking him personally to move the event after Labor Day, when the beaches have fewer swimmers, and agreed to move the event to the first week of October.
According to Wright, he said state officials told him he couldn’t be arrested.
“Oh, it’s going to happen, unless the state stops it,” Wright said.
Holden said that despite the event being moved, the event may still pose a problem.
“With turtle season running through the same time frame and our tourist season running through the same time frame, that’s not a good idea,” Holden said.
Holden confirms that documents have been submitted to the courts to prevent this type of tournament from happening.
We were unable to reach the appropriate state or court authorities for status or regulations surrounding shore shark fishing.
According to General Statute 113-174.2, anyone engaged in recreational fishing in North Carolina coastal waters must have an Inshore Recreational Fishing License.