The US National Marine Fisheries Service has released a draft report on the state of the Atlantic shark fishery.
According to a government notice published this week:
“As part of the overall review of the current state of the shark fishery, NMFS examined all aspects of commercial and recreational shark fisheries conservation and management, shark depredation, and additional factors affecting the shark fishery. As a comprehensive review of the shark fishery, the SHARE document identifies areas of success and concerns in the fishery and identifies potential future revisions to regulations and management measures. NMFS anticipates that revisions to the regulations and/or management measures would occur via future rulemaking and would include appropriate opportunity for public comment.”
In compiling its report, the NMFS looked at commercial shark fishery vessel permits, trips targeting or retaining sharks, shark landings, dealer permits, and markets, according to the notice:
“These data indicate that catch of available quota and participation in the commercial shark fishery has dramatically declined from historical levels. In the recreational shark fishery, NMFS reviewed the recent permits with shark endorsements, fishing effort, survey data, and tournament landings. Shark depredation, which occurs when a shark eats or preys upon fish that are caught on fishing gear, has been a growing concern in a wide variety of commercial and recreational fisheries. While the number of reports of depredation have increased, the underlying cause of the increase is uncertain — it could be due to an increase in the number of sharks as stocks rebuild; a learned behavior by sharks as they recognize motors, fishing techniques, or shark feeding locations as a source of food (this learned behavior is found in other animals such as marine mammals); an increase in the number of people using social media to report the depredation; or any combination of the above. Lastly, in the SHARE document, NMFS analyzed additional factors beyond the Federal shark fishery including other fisheries, state shark fin sale prohibitions, and binding international recommendations.”
Check out the draft report here.
To sign up for the December 8th, 2021 webinar/conference call where the public can submit comments on the report, go to fisheries.noaa.gov.