By Anh Do and Kate Mather
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — The fishermen who caught what is believed to be a record-breaking 1,323-pound mako shark off the coast of Huntington Beach weren’t just out fishing for pleasure.
At least two videographers involved in an Outdoor Channel reality television show — “Jim Shockey’s The Professionals” — were on the fishing boat and the massive catch is already being promoted online.
Kent Williams, who owns New Fishall Bait Co. in Gardena where the shark’s carcass is being held, said the captain of the boat, Matt Potter, has been a customer for years and buys thousands of dollars’ worth of bait.
About 3 p.m. on Monday, Williams received a text from Potter: “I think we got one over a grand, finally.”
The shark arrived at Williams’ Gardena facility about 7 p.m. The fish overloaded the first scale, so they moved it to another.
Williams said the crew pumped chum from a bait tank attached to the boat, luring the sharks toward them. The bait is a combination of ground sardines and mackerel — it runs $25-$35 dollars for a 30-pound bucket, depending on the quality of the chum.
Corey Knowlton, one of the co-hosts of the show, described the shark to KTLA: “It’s basically like a giant nightmare swimming around.”
David McGuire, director of Shark Stewards, a Bay Area-based nonprofit that advocates for the protection of sharks, said he believed the mako should have been released.
“I’m a little shocked by it,” he said. “It’s really something you see more in Florida than in California, where we have more of a conservation ethic.”
He said he “certainly would object” to a catch set up for a television show. “People should be viewing these sharks as wonderful animals that are important to the ocean and admiring how beautiful they are,” he said, not “spilling their blood and guts.”
“These kind of reality shows are not reality. The reality is we’re overfishing sharks and this macho big-game attitude should be a relic of the past,” he said. “This is not entertainment. It’s not right, in my view.”
Responding to criticism about the catch, Capt. Matt Potter -– who simply goes by “Mako Matt” –- said they abided by fishing laws.
“It’s just like any other fishing,” he said. “The state limit for mako is two per person per day. We only kept one mako for a total of 18 passengers out there three days.” The rest were released, he said.
Another fisherman on board, Jason Johnston, said that catching the shark isn’t hurting the population.
“There are not that many sharks being taken out of the water,” Johnston said. “It’s not hurting the population. If we pull four fish out of the water per year, that’s just four.”