Surf Shark Tournament Moved Amid Safety Concerns

One coastal tourist spot has an issue with anglers catching sharks where families are splashing in the surf.
blacktip sharks near beach
Blacktip sharks near the beach. Ibrahim Rifath via Unsplash

With Discovery TV’s “Shark Week” on tap beginning July 24, it seems fitting that a coastal tourist spot would have an issue with anglers wanting to catch sharks where families are frolicking in the surf. That seems to be the case with a shark fishing tournament that was slated for mid-July at Holden Beach, N.C.

Coastal officials in the Holden Beach area, located between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach, have postponed the shark tourney until the autumn. They say fewer folks will be splashing and dashing in beach areas as the summer ends, so the odds of someone getting chomped by a shark is less likely at that time.

Concerns from the Mayor and Area Businesses

Alan Holden, Mayor of Holden Beach, told Wilmington Channel 3 TV that a shark tournament isn’t good for business, especially during peak tourist season.

“Sharks and people swimming along the coastline do not mix,” Holden explained to WAAY-TV3. “We don’t want any bad press, and no one in their right mind is going to bring their children down here to swim.”

Holden Beach business owner John Legge agrees with Holden.

“Being a big family beach, that shark fishing on the beach while there are guests here is just not a good idea,” Legge said to TV3.

The Sharks Are Already Here

Madkingz Tackle in Southport, N.C. sponsored the shark tournament. Store owner Marty Wright says he was asked by the mayor of Oak Island, N.C. to move the event post Labor Day, when beach swimmers are fewer in number. Wright complied and moved the shark tournament to early October.

“We don’t use chum, the sharks are here already,” said Wright in defense of the tournament. “And our waters are shark infested.”

Wright says he wouldn’t make a profit from the tournament and just wanted to organize an event for anglers and tackle shop customers.

Sharkers would drop baits a couple hundred yards from the beach by paddling out in kayaks to set up for sharks.

“Pull a tape and release them, they video their catch and then they catch and then they turn them back loose,” Wright explained.

While the changed shark tournament date may satisfy beach families visiting the area in July, all may still not be well with sharking in the area. Turtle nesting may still be on-going in October, and that may trigger another problem for sharkers wanting to participate in the event.

But Wright says state authorities told him he can’t be halted from sponsoring the tournament.

“Oh, it’s going to happen, unless the state stops it,” said Wright