(WRIC) — Experts are pointing to shark fishing as a possible reason behind the recent surge in attacks off the coast of North Carolina.
The fishing is permitted on North Carolina beaches and piers, though it’s been banned at several other popular beach destinations on the East Coast.
Experts have theorized that all the bait and chum used is attracting fish –including sharks. Several of the recent attacks, including Friday’s attack involving a 47-year-old father scrambling to get children out of the water, as well as two attacks on June 14 have happened in close proximity to fishing piers.
“If we fed bears right in Yellowstone, people would be screaming,” Marie Levine, executive director of the Shark Research Institute, told ABC News.
There have since been calls in parts of the state for the practice to be banned at least temporarily during times of high beach traffic… such as July 4th weekend.
Levine and other experts note the possibility of shark attacks increases during the summer, not because there are more sharks, but because there are more people in the water.
Despite the recent calls for change, the director of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, Louis Daniel, said he doesn’t think fishing is to blame. He disputed the critics’ claims, and said he believes the shark population has increased since commercial shark fishing was outlawed.
He has heard the recent calls to ban some fishing on North Carolina beaches but so far, has no plans to take action.
His advice? Use common sense. Don’t swim near people fishing. On that point, the shark experts agree.