KABC-TV reports that the California Fish and Game Commission has voted unanimously to advance the candidacy of the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) as a potential endangered species. The status review will last for one year and will grant the species the same protections as a listed endangered species during the review period.
It is already illegal to target and harvest white sharks in California. The candidacy status will also make incidental catch of the species illegal in state waters.
The commission vote followed a petition from Oceana to protect the subspecies of white sharks along the California coast. According to the KABC-TV report, state researchers hope to get a more accurate estimate of population numbers during the review and will assess threats to the species. The commission will use the information gathered from the review to make an “informed decision” on whether to list the species as endangered under California law.
The great white shark is currently listed as “vulnerable” globally on the IUCN Red List.
The L.A. Times is reporting that some environmental groups are seeking federal protection for great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). The groups have petitioned for the government to list California’s white shark population as an endangered species. The petition, filed last Friday, was prepared by Oceana in conjunction with Sea Stewards, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
The biggest concern of those behind the petition is the threat of juvenile white shark being killed as a result of by-catch in gill nets off the coast of Southern California and Mexico, according to Oceana’s Geoff Shester. It’s unclear from the report how U.S. federal protection status would help to reduce by-catch of the species. White sharks are already a protected species in California and Mexico and cannot legally be targeted for harvest in either locales.
According to a WPTV.com report a 9′ (2.75 m) female scalloped hammerhead was caught by fisherman off-shore and then left dead on the docks of the Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach, Florida. The abandoned catch has stirred up some controversy. A WPBF.com report on the event quotes Jim Abernathy as saying that the catch was illegal based on Florida law. According to Abernathy, any fish that is not intended to be eaten must be immediately released under the state law.
Despite being listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Redlist, the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) is not a protected species in Florida waters.