Letters from the Issue of April 18, 2002

Is the only good fish a dead fish?

Hooked: I Killed a Hammerhead

But I was young and foolish and under the spell of Mark the Shark: I was glad to see Mike Clary finally bringing to the public the issue of killing South Florida's sailfish and sharks ("Hooked on Death," April 11). Many years ago ignorance led me and some friends into the world of "monster fishing" with Mark "the Shark" Quartiano, the charter captain mentioned in the story who is based at the Biscayne Bay Marriott marina. I must say the article brought back terrible memories of that February day.

It wasn't just the killing of a 200-pound hammerhead or the pressure to purchase the mount that led me to wonder about this charter captain's integrity. I was surprised when all my pictures came back from the photo lab overexposed. I was told by the technician that someone had opened the camera, allowing light inside and thus causing the overexposure.

Now, I'm not insinuating anything, but I will say that our captain was nice enough to volunteer to take photographs of us. Three weeks later, with only memories of our trip, I received in the mail a nice packet of photographs with the boat's logo. They could have been mine if I would send cash, check, or credit card. I wonder if that happened to customers Robert De Niro and Will Smith.

I very much enjoyed reading "Hooked on Death" but I fear it did more to promote guys like Mark the Shark than they deserve. On top of being a disgrace to the fishing community, they go way beyond the limits of business ethics. The story also may have tainted South Florida's fishing community to outsiders. Most charter captains in Miami are very environmentally conscious and practice strict catch-and-release methods.

By the way, in case you were wondering, we never heard back about the mount, and I took the liberty of making copies of those nice, expensive photographs. Then I returned the originals.

Edsel Gonzalez

Miami

Hooked: Institutionalized Death

After years of hard work they've finally perfected their killing machines: It's about time somebody had the guts to publicize the slaughter of game fish. As a Miami native and avid fisherman I have watched in disbelief as the charter and commercial fleets have worked vigorously to eradicate our billfish and shark populations. All the while the regulatory bureaucracy has averted its eyes or lined its pockets with kickbacks from the industry. There is no place and no excuse for this unrelenting, self-interested waste in South Florida or any other port of call.

Charter captains like Stan Saffan and especially Mark Quartiano cannot be allowed to continue in this manner. Because of their success thus far, there are no longer "plenty of fish in the sea." Thanks to New Times for this timely article. Let's hope it starts the ball rolling in the right direction.

Randy K. Lay

Oakland Park

Hooked: Skipper, Do You or Don't You?

Be sure to get an answer before leaving the dock: I am an avid fisherman and wholeheartedly believe in the catch-and-release of sailfish. The charter captains will never stop killing fish, and Gray Taxidermy will never stop courting the charter captains. Education of the general public and our visiting tourists is the key to catch-and-release.

Visitors need to know they should ask a captain what his standards are regarding catch-and-release. If the captain believes in killing billfish, the tourist should find one who doesn't. Customers are always right, and they need to have this discussion and make this decision before they leave the dock.

It takes articles like "Hooked on Death" to keep the issue alive.

Stephanie Gordon

Coral Gables

Hooked: The Angler's Education

First lesson covers bloodthirsty troglodytes: Thanks to New Times for having the conviction to print "Hooked on Death." Educating the fishing public is our best defense against these dinosaurs and their outdated views on respect for our natural resources.

Troy E. Taylor

Boynton Beach

Hooked: Thanks for Making Me Puke

Free weekly excels in revolting nausea: I remember reading an article in New Times a few years back about the shady towing practices in Miami Beach. It was at this time I came to the conclusion that New Times is easily the best local news source in town. This week's article about the revolting fishing practices in Miami further illustrates what a great job New Times's writers are doing.

Mike Clary did an admirable job of exposing the disturbing practices of Miami's fishing industry. The idea of hanging these splendid fish on a wall to display as a trophy is sickening, and while I don't completely support the catch-and-release policy some have adopted (I can't imagine that the fish much enjoy it), at least some in the fishing industry are showing an interest in conservation.

On a side note, let me congratulate Celeste Fraser Delgado, Tony Green, and the rest of the New Times music section staff. Their articles are a great way of keeping abreast of the local music scene, and they provide real insight into music that may otherwise be overlooked. Thanks for helping me plan my weekends.

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