JUPITER, Fla. (WFLA) — A shark fishing tournament in Palm Beach County has drawn national controversy, with more than 100,000 people signing a petition calling for it to be cancelled.

Organizers of the tournament, set to take place on July 9, said they put the event together to draw attention to the surging bull shark population. Local fishermen claim the shark population needs to be managed, as the animals are stealing their catches and affecting their livelihoods.

The tournament announcement was met with protests over the Forth of July weekend, as well as an online petition calling for its cancellation, which has since garnered over 115,000 signatures. Conservationists and marine biologists argue sharks are vital to the balance and health of the ocean and have been the victims of overfishing for decades.

“By tinkering with some of the important parts of the ecosystem or removing the sharks, there might ultimately be some sort of an imbalance or cascading impact that might have other further bad impacts that ultimately impact the fishers themselves,” said Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, the director of the Shark Research and Conservation Program at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School.

Conservationists are not the only group opposing the event. Local boat guides, who hold tours allowing patrons to swim with sharks, say they want to preserve their natural environment and worry that too many animals could be culled.

Local fishermen and scientists are not sure exactly how many sharks are in the area. Sharks are migratory animals, meaning the number of sharks encountered near the shore may not reflect the true population. Tournament organizers said they hope to bring some clarity and help scientists get an accurate count.

One of the organizers, who identified himself only as “Jason” to NBC News, said the opposition to the event has been blown out of proportion.

“They’re putting accusations and assumptions out there that we’re going to be poaching illegal species,” Jason said. “Like great white sharks, whale sharks, so on and so forth, when that’s not the case.”