CDFW Gathering Information Regarding Shark Incident

white shark
White shark

California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers are gathering information regarding the shark incident at Manhattan Beach on July 5, 2014. The following is general information, not specific to this incident.

Fishing for most species of sharks, including large sharks such as mako and thresher, is a legal activity in most ocean waters of the state, including the area surrounding Manhattan Beach.

Public piers including Manhattan Beach pier are built for public enjoyment, which includes fishing. Many public piers were constructed specifically for the purpose of fishing. It’s important for ocean users to note, sharks are an integral part of the marine ecosystem and can be found anywhere in ocean waters.

The take of white sharks in California has been prohibited since 1994. In addition, there are a number of marine protected areas off the California coast where no fishing is allowed for any marine species, including sharks.

For more information on ocean sport fishing, please refer to the ocean sport fishing page.

Read the July 10, 2014 press release.

post by Mary Patyten, CDFW Research Writer  ♦ photo courtesy Callaghan Fritz-Cope, Pelagic Shark Research Foundation

21 thoughts on “CDFW Gathering Information Regarding Shark Incident

  1. Perhaps fishing from a local pier should be suspended when white sharks are spotted in the immediate vicinity?

    • Hello Roger – Thank you for your concern, however this would not address the issue because any number of prohibited species, including white sharks, are caught not just from piers, but from boats and shore; most, including incidentally caught white sharks, are never seen before they are hooked.

  2. “The take of white sharks in California has been prohibited since 1994.” So what does that mean? Does it mean that once you identify your catch as a white shark you must cut your line to free the shark? Does it mean you can keep the white shark on your line indefinitely as long as you don’t remove it from the water?

    • Hello Lorie – As with any species whose take is prohibited, once you realize you have caught it you must immediately release it. In this case cutting the line was the best option. Knowingly playing a prohibited species indefinitely is not allowed.

      • If the above statement by Marinenews is correct and reflects CDFW’s interpretation of the law, how is there not a violation in this case where the video shows the fisherman knew he had a great white (and apparently had known of it for some time) and did not immediately cut the line? Further, if the legal requirement is to immediately release any species of fish whose take is prohibited once you’ve caught it, how can you play it once you know what it is?

      • Hello Jack – There are many fish that have a bag limit of zero, meaning if they are caught accidentally, they must be immediately released. It is common practice for anglers to reel a fish in, in order to remove the hook, or to cut the line as close as possible to the fish in order to prevent yards of monofilament from trailing behind fish when they are released.

  3. People get hurt all the time at the beach. They get stung by stingrays, hit by surfboards, bike collisions on the boardwalk, crushed by big waves, etc. Does government ban surfing, biking, swimming, etc??? No they manage the different user groups by making swimming zones, surfing zones, bike paths, etc. How is it government just flat out bans fishing from a public fishing pier? The California constitution is in conflict with the fishing ban. Check the law. This is not the solution.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured swimmer. This was an unfortunate accident. NOT a shark attack.

    • This was a very unfortunate incident where a person was injured. CDFW looks forward to working closely with the city of Manhattan Beach to restore fishing access to the pier as soon as possible.



    Section 25. The people shall have the right to fish upon and from
    the public lands of the State and in the waters thereof, excepting
    upon lands set aside for fish hatcheries, and no land owned by the
    State shall ever be sold or transferred without reserving in the
    people the absolute right to fish thereupon; and no law shall ever be
    passed making it a crime for the people to enter upon the public
    lands within this State for the purpose of fishing in any water
    containing fish that have been planted therein by the State;
    provided, that the legislature may by statute, provide for the season
    when and the conditions under which the different species of fish
    may be taken.

  5. Released Facebook pages have been released demonstrating that these fishermen made fishing for Great Whites a weekly practice. What kind if enforcement is in place to deter or prevent this?

    • An investigation including evidence from videos, social media and personal interviews did not provide proof there was intent by the angler to target white sharks. Unless additional evidence is discovered, no charges will be pursued by CDFW in this case.

  6. Maybe the DFW should put out their own press release saying this was a very isolated incident and show some support for the fishermen that pay for licenses that help pay their salaries.The guy that hooked the shark showed poor judgement and closing a pier is not a solution to this incident !

  7. Why can people fish on a pier without a license? When is CDFW going to enforce MY legal fishing right to fish on Manhattan pier? Can I be sighted for beach/surf fishing on Manhattan beach sands today? I have my license and ocean enhancement tag. What are my rights? What is MY legal recourse for being shut out of a specific area? Who controls the ocean fishing CDFW or the police in Manhattan?? PLEASE RESPOND……

    • Hello Candy,

      I’d be glad to help you sort through this issue. Recreational fishermen may fish on a pier without a recreational fishing license because state law permits it. There are no closures on Manhattan Beach (excluding the pier) that would prohibit you from sport fishing, though we always advise anglers to consult with local (county, city, park) authorities for restrictions that may be in place due to concern for public safety. As you may know, CDFW is diligently working with all parties involved to restore fishing access to the pier as soon as possible. We advise you to contact the City of Manhattan Beach for further information on the Manhattan Beach Pier closure.

  8. Hold on – so the Facebook pages that said they were targeting sharks week after week and their laughter on the video didn’t indicate they knew what they were doing? I know that justice is blind, but deaf and dumb? that is outrageous!!!

    I agree that only licensed fishermen that acknowledge the rules should be allowed to fish. The problem is, there is absolutely no enforcement. The only person that seems to do anything about fishermen catching great whites off that pier (and it happens every year) is the staff from Roundhouse – and it is not there job. If you are going to have rules, you need some sort of process in place to enforce and remediate issues when they arise.

    • Hello Anne,

      Many species of shark may be legally caught in the ocean, including species such as thresher shark, which is common in southern California waters and a highly desirable sport fish. CDFW wardens patrol and monitor areas such as piers where fishing occurs. When our wardens are not on site, we encourage the public to report illegal fishing activity via CalTIP, our poaching hotline (1-888-334-2258). Callers may remain anonymous.

      • Hello again Anne,

        As you may know (see earlier response to another comment you made), an investigation including evidence from videos, social media and personal interviews did not provide proof there was intent by the angler to target white sharks. Unless additional evidence is discovered, no charges will be pursued by CDFW in this case.

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