Report | August, 2012
Federal Petition to List the Northeastern Pacific Population of White Shark as Threatened or Endangered
White sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, of the northeastern Pacific Ocean are in peril. New studies demonstrate that these sharks form a genetically distinct population. Such a population, covering a significant portion of the world’s oceans, urgently needs protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Other new studies show that this population has only a few hundred adult and sub-adult individual white sharks left – a population level so low that the species is at risk of extinction even without regard to other threats. Yet there are other threats. The primary threat to the northeastern Pacific population of white sharks is commercial fishing. U.S. and Mexican fishing vessels incidentally catch and kill white sharks in unsustainably high numbers. Other threats include contamination, coastal development, pollution, ocean acidification, and climate change.
The continued persistence of this unique population of white sharks is further at risk from sharks’ low fecundity and late maturity. Action by NOAA Fisheries is needed to ensure that white sharks in the northeastern Pacific do not become extinct.
Therefore, this petition seeks to list the distinct population segment of white sharks in the northeastern Pacific as threatened or endangered under the United States Endangered Species Act.