Subject: Sharks:CMC: Government Acts to Cut Sh (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Thu, 3 Apr 1997 13:37:25 -0500 (EST)

J. Michael Williamson
   Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
   Associate Professor-Science
   Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
fax:    617.734.8666, or 617.566.7369

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu,  3 Apr 97 12:48:00 GMT 
Subject: CMC: Government Acts to Cut Sh

CMC: Government Acts to Cut Shark Catches in Half

   WASHINGTON, April 2 /U.S. Newswire/ -- After years of consideration,
the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) today finalized measures
essential to rebuilding and protecting populations of Atlantic coastal
   The Center for Marine Conservation (CMC), which has urged NMFS to adopt
Atlantic shark conservation measures for more than six years, welcomed
the action.
   "The government has hit a home run for America's Atlantic sharks,"
declared CMC President Roger McManus.  "But the ball game is far from
   NMFS will reduce the annual quota for commercially-valuable large
coastal sharks by 50 percent and prohibit the intentional killing of
whale, basking, white and sand tiger sharks in the Atlantic.  NMFS will
also begin to limit the catch of Atlantic small coastal sharks,
substantially reduce the recreational catch, and make much-needed
improvements in shark data collection programs.
   Sharks are especially susceptible to overfishing because they grow
slowly, mature late and have few young.  Decades of intense fishing for
large coastal species (such as blacktip, sandbar and dusky sharks)
devastated many Atlantic populations, with several stocks plummeting by
80 percent or more since the 1970s.  Federal shark management was
stalled until 1993, and still allowed excessive catches.  Large coastal
sharks have yet to show signs of recovery.
   "At long last, NMFS is stepping up to the plate for Atlantic sharks,"
said CMC Shark Specialist Sonja Fordham.  "Unfortunately, the serious
depletion of these magnificent but vulnerable fish will take decades to
   The immense, plankton-eating whale and basking sharks, the biggest fish
in the sea, make easy targets as they swim slowly near the ocean's
surface.  Currently, there are no U.S. fisheries for these gentle
species, but both are sought in other parts of the world for their
meat, fins and oil.  Great white and sand tiger sharks are also highly
vulnerable.  White sharks, a popular trophy fish, are naturally rare;
even modest catches can threaten their populations and the ecosystems
they keep in balance.  Sand tiger sharks, often killed solely for their
menacing jaws, give birth to only two pups at a time after a nine month
gestation period.
   "These new measures represent a big step in the right direction, but
more must be done to ensure a healthy future for America's sharks,"
added Fordham.  "Protection of nursery grounds is key to enhancing
large coastal shark recovery, while several intensely fished shark
stocks, including Atlantic spiny dogfish and Pacific blue sharks,
remain totally unprotected."
   Despite a global surge in demand for shark products, the U.S. Atlantic
Shark Plan is one of only a handful of shark management programs around
the world.  Most sharks migrate great distances and yet international
shark management is non-existent.  Last month, CMC, in cooperation with
TRAFFIC International, released a major study outlining a blueprint for
action by national and international fisheries and wildlife authorities
to promote shark conservation on a global scale.  Copies of the report
are available upon request from CMC.