California’s Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously last week to consider a petition filed by three environmental groups to add great white sharks to the state’s endangered species list.
The targeting and selling great white sharks is already prohibited, however there are now no limits on the numbers of incidental catches. In 1994, Gov. Pete Wilson banned the hunting of great white sharks up to three miles offshore. In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown also signed a bill banning the possession and sale of shark fins. Unfortunately, both bans have loopholes that allow the sharks to be killed accidentally when caught in the gill nets that some fishermen use to catch halibut. Many of these fishermen find a way to turn a profit from those numerous accidental catches. With the recent consideration of listing great white sharks as endangered species, these loopholes could be closed by requiring gill net fishermen to apply for “incidental take permits”.
The great white shark is recognized as the top predator of the ocean and it is not endangered by any species other than humans. The loss of an apex predator can lead to disaster for the entire food chain and ecosystem. The petitioning environmental groups are hoping that with a better understanding of the danger great white sharks face, California legislators will step in and increase protections for the species.
For more information on how you can help conserve our ocean’s wildlife, visit GR8-White.com.