Sharks: New addition to endangered species list

Posted By Horizon Staff March 5th, 2013 in News : 0 COMMENTS

Amanda Siegel
Staff Writer

 

The infamous great white shark, seen locally off the coast of California and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, has recently been brought before the California Fish and Game Commission by environmental advocates for inclusion on the California endangered species list, reports Santa Barbara News-Press.

The research presented to California Fish and Game indicated that the number of adult and juvenile great whites found in the two main feeding grounds off the coast has dropped to less than 340 individuals.  Scientists have also noted that the West Coast population of great whites is genetically unique and isolated from other members of the species, reports TIME.

The California Fish and Game Commission has unanimously voted to advance the candidacy of the great white shark for inclusion on the state endangered species list, reports Santa Barbara News-Press. A one-year survey will then be conducted on the shark’s behalf, during which the species will receive the same protections as if it were on the endangered species list.

Since 1994, great whites have already been off-limits to sport and commercial fishing.  However, the current concern are being raised over the potential for these animals to become accidental “bycatch” in commercial gillnets targeting halibut, swordfish or white sea bass.  TIME Magazine has researched and reported that thus far, this occurrence has been labeled as “incidental taking” and has been unrestricted.

There have also been some exceptions made for capture associated with research activities.  Following the enhancement of protection for great whites, researchers and gillnet fisherman will have to apply for permits from Fish and Wildlife to tag or risk accidental capture of the sharks, reports TIME.

Following the enhancement of protection for great whites, researchers and gillnet fisherman will have to apply for permits from Fish and Wildlife to tag or risk accidental capture of the sharks.  Fisherman have shown opposition to this move, saying that they do not believe the West Coast population is in danger and no added protections are necessary (Santa Barbara News-Press).  The hope is that the results of the shark review survey will shed light on the current state of the sharks and indicate whether further action will be needed to maintain their presence off our coast.

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