A fisherman finds himself embroiled in controversy and facing a possible fine after posting photos online of the 14-foot tiger shark he caught and released from a beach in Australia, WAtoday.com reported.
"Who's interested in helping me make a GoFundMe page so I can afford a lawyer to fight this ridiculous controversy on catching this tiger shark I caught and released," Nick Schoevaart, 23, wrote on Facebook Monday.
Schoevaart was fishing with friends at Cheynes Beach near Albany about a week ago when he hooked the massive tiger shark, fighting it for 1 1/2 hours on 80-pound-test line.
Once the tiger shark was landed, Schoevaart and his friends took a few photos with the protected fish before releasing it. The controversy began when he posted those photos online.
Tiger sharks are protected in Australia where the law says "upon becoming aware of the taking of a protected fish, the person must take immediate steps to return the fish (to the water) with the least possible injury," according to Perth Now.
Not doing so could result in fines up to $5,000.
Conservation groups, particularly Sea Shepherd Australia, condemned the catch, "saying sharks can die from the stress of being hooked and reeled in to shore," Perth Now wrote.
"I was targeting small bronze whalers or makos that you can eat," Schoevaart told Perth Now. "I wasn't chasing a big shark. But I know the laws. You have to release them and that's what I did."
At issue, however, is the time it took to take the photos while the tiger shark was out of water.
"[It's] very sad to see another fisherman choosing to pose for photographs with a protected shark rather than taking immediate steps to return it to the water with the least possible injury," Natalie Banks, the Sea Shepherd Australia's shark campaign co-coordinator, told Perth Now.
WA Department of Fisheries southern compliance manager Richard Petty told Perth Now on Saturday the incident was being investigated.
On Monday, Schoevaart reported on Facebook that he had a video-recorded interview with the Department of Fisheries.
"Basically…they said, 'There's a good chance you will receive an infringement,'" Schoevaart wrote. "I will know tomorrow if I will be fined, that's what I was told."
Schoevaart told Perth Now that his catch was "no different from Fisheries catching and killing sharks with drum lines, but at least I release mine."
More from GrindTV