The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has denied federal endangered species protection to the Shortfin Mako Shark, a move that has “disappointed” some environmentalists.
In a notice published November 14th in the Federal Register, NOAA said:
“After reviewing the best scientific and commercial data available, including the Status Review Report, we have determined that listing the shortfin mako shark as a threatened or endangered species under the [Endangered Species Act] is not warranted.”
This decision didn’t sit well among shark conservationists.
According to Jane Davenport, senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife:
“We are disappointed in NOAA’s decision not to provide much-needed federal protections for the shortfin mako. The shortfin mako shark is the world’s fastest-swimming shark, but it can’t outrace the threat of extinction.”
While Catherine Kilduff, attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, added:
“The federal government has ignored the shortfin mako shark’s steep population decline in the North Atlantic, and scientists expect that the shark’s numbers will get even worse in the next decade. The shortfin mako has low reproduction rates, and will have a tough time recovering without help. This decision was made on a wing and a prayer that future international fishing limits will save the shortfin mako from extinction, which is far from a sure thing.”
In 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature classified the shortfin mako as “endangered” on its Red List of Threatened Species. Also in 2019, makos were included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to monitor and limit trade. In 2021, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), an intergovernmental organization responsible for managing tuna populations, announced a two-year ban on retaining, shipping or landing North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks, preventing fishers from retaining and selling these sharks even when they are unintentionally caught.
However, NOAA came to a different conclusion:
“We have determined the shortfin mako shark is not presently in danger of extinction, nor is it likely to become so in the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. This finding is consistent with the statute’s requirement to base our findings on the best scientific and commercial data available, summarized and analyzed above. Therefore, the shortfin mako shark does not meet the definition of a threatened species or an endangered species and does not warrant listing as threatened or endangered at this time.”