- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

Perhaps some of the more hammerheaded lawyers involved in the Florida election fight simply swam back to their traditional ocean feeding grounds once the frenzy was over. It's one explanation for the recent surge in shark bitings in Florida. Tragically, these sharks seem to have a somewhat selective diet while surfers and accountants and children have all served as human hors d'oeuvres, they have not yet feasted on lawyers. It could be a case of professional courtesy.

Lawyers, and their honorary brethren, federal regulators, may actually have increased the ability of sharks to bite back, according to Sean Paige, the Warren Brookes Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In an August article in National Review Online, Mr. Paige pointed out that over the last decade, state and federal regulators created a de-facto shark sanctuary close to Florida's shoreline, in the belief that shark populations were rapidly declining.

The restrictions had teeth in them too. Florida instituted a one shark per person or two shark per boat bag limit on sharks in state waters. Commercial shark permits issued by the federal government were cut by a factor of ten. Two techniques for catching sharks longlining and gillnetting were also prohibited. As a result, commercial shark catches have fallen by at last 50 percent over the last decade.

Sharkingly enough, savage attacks on humans have increased dramatically over the same time period. Mr. Paige noted that Florida has experienced a 150 percent increase in shark attacks since the shark-stock rebuilding program was instituted in the early 1990s. Last year, Florida experienced an unprecedented 34 shark attacks, a record which will almost certainly fall prey to this year's rampage.

Some people do enjoy turning the tables. For a toothsome shark steak, we recommend one season the shark with lemon juice and let it sit in a baking pan. Mix in mayonnaise, dill weed and two tablespoons lemon juice. Brush on one side and broil or grill. Turn fish and brush on other side and grill 5 to 8 minutes per side depending on thickness of fish. Be sure to serve with a chilled white wine.

Sharks, of course, are less finicky and tend to like their humans raw. Unfortunately, sharks will likely enjoy an increased diet of human finger food until federal regulators take their hands out of the water.


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