Like many kids in Florida, Violet Jalil loves the ocean. But for the past two years, her mom hasn't let her 5-year-old daughter swim in the ocean.
And it's easy to understand why. Two years ago, Violet was bitten by a shark while in shallow water near her Martin County home.
"None of us saw the shark coming," Jessica Veatch told NBC 6. "All I heard is her scream 'Mommy' and I knew it wasn't a regular scream."
U.S. & World
When Violet was pulled from a water, a doctor who happened to be nearby went into action along with a lifeguard to save her life.
She spent 10 days in the hospital and had so many stitches, her mom says she lost count.
Veatch remembers just before the shark bit her daughter, she saw two men spearfishing nearby.
"What they were doing provoked the attack on my daughter," Veatch said.
Her daughter was one of the 300 people bitten by sharks in Florida waters over the last 12 years.
Florida has more shark bites than anywhere in the world.
What happened to Violet launched Veatch on a mission to make Florida waters safer.
"I contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to find out what the regulations were on shore-based shark fishing and there were none—not a single regulation to regulate this sport," Veatch said.
So she studied all she could about sharks and started an effort to convince the FWC to act.
And it worked.
On July 1, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission added regulations in an effort to keep sharks from coming so close to the shoreline and unsuspecting surfers, swimmers and bathers.
- Prohibits chumming when fishing from the beach
- Requires immediate release of sharks on the "prohibited" list when from the shore and requires anglers cut the leader or hook to more quickly release the shark
- Limits the type of hook that can be used when shark fishing and mandates the person has a device capable of quickly cutting the leader or hook
Anyone fishing for sharks is required to get a new, free permit. To get it they have to take an online class to learn more about sharks. They are also warned about keeping a safe distance from anyone in the water.
Harom Acosta, who fishes for sharks and has a popular YouTube channel showing his adventures, is one of 130 in Broward and Miami-Dade counties that has already gotten the new permit.
"They're good, they're good for the shark," Acosta said. "The prohibited sharks are going to survive a lot better."
He told us he understands the new rules.
"I wouldn't like to chum right now when there's people in the water. You're going to attract the sharks to shore," he said.
"We heard all the issues," said FWC Marine Fisheries Director Jessica McCawley. "We took them to heard and came up with a rule package that we think is a step in the right direction both for the conservation of sharks and hopefully working for the public."
Still, Veatch was hoping for more.
"Now the regulations that we do have on the books are not as far as I would like to take this, but it is a step in the right direction," she said.
Violet and her mother came out of the water all smiles.
"She has salt water in her veins," Veatch said. "She wanted to go back into the water and she enjoyed every minute of it."
But she says the FWC hasn't seen the last of her.
"If the shore-based shark fisherman cannot heed the recommendations as outlined, to voluntarily separate themselves from the swimming public and popular swimming beaches then we will be back to the FWC," Veatch said.
Both Palm Beach and Martin County have gone further than the state and prohibit fishing for sharks from county beaches.