Great White Sharks: What Oceana Does
Oceana has partnered with the Center for Biological Diversity, Shark Stewards, and WildEarth Guardians to get the U.S. West Coast population of great white sharks protected under the California and federal Endangered Species Act.
As a result of the strong scientific merits for protection we provided in the federal petition, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced a positive 90-day finding in September 2012 which means NMFS recognizes the new science documenting the perils facing this unique population of great white sharks. NMFS will conduct an in depth status analysis of the population and is responsible for making a final determination of whether to add this population to the federal endangered species list by June 2013.
The California Endangered Species Act petition is scheduled to be taken under consideration by the California Fish and Game Commission in February 2013. At this meeting, the Commission will determine whether to advance white sharks to “candidate” endangered species status, in which case they will undertake a one-year analysis and implement interim conservation measures for this distinct population of sharks.
An endangered species listing will enact further conservation measures to reduce and eliminate white shark bycatch in west coast fisheries and increase observer coverage to obtain accurate estimates of bycatch. It may also increase funding for great white shark research. While scientists have learned a great deal about great white sharks over the last two decades in particular, there are still mysteries needing to be solved like when and where these iconic ocean predators breed.
These Endangered Species Act listings would:
- Obtain more accurate information on the bycatch of great white sharks in California fisheries;
- Enact precautionary management measures to minimize the bycatch of great white sharks; and
- Garner additional scientific research to better understand great white sharks and their threats.
Whether you fear them, or are amazed by them, the oceans need sharks. We are already witnessing changes in our oceans from the removal of large shark populations worldwide which has resulted in cascading effects throughout ocean ecosystems, including adverse effects on commercial fisheries. In the California Current Ecosystem, great white sharks are among the few natural predators of seals and sea lions, and play a critical role in keeping the ocean food web in balance.