The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration today proposed a sharp reduction in fishing for sandbar sharks, which have been depleted by overfishing.
Sandbar sharks could only be caught by commercial ships that participate in shark research, under the proposal. Recreational fishing for the species would cease. The proposal should also help dusky sharks, another species imperiled by overfishing, according to NOAA.
"Because sandbar sharks as well as dusky sharks have been severely depleted, we must take strong measures to stop overfishing and allow these species to rebuild," said Dr. William T. Hogarth, director of NOAA Fisheries Service. "Even with these measures, it will take a long time to rebuild the population of these sharks because of their unique biology."
Like many large species, these sharks take many years to reach sexual maturity, and bear few young. That makes it difficult to sustainably fish for the species, and sets up a prolonged period during which they will recover. Fishing for dusky sharks has been banned since 2000. Sandbar sharks, because of their large fins, are the target of many of the nation's commercial fishing vessels. There are 529 shark fishing permits for the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.
"NOAA Fisheries Service banned the fishing of dusky sharks in 2000 and we will not allow them to be taken in any manner, research, recreational or otherwise. The research fishery will allow the catching of a limited amount of sandbar sharks," spokeswoman Monica Allen told The Daily Green.
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