Supporting the listing of the Northeastern Pacific population of white sharks as endangered or threatened would allow California to minimize the unwanted catching of white sharks at state fisheries and acquire funding to help understand white shark population trends and threats.
Learn more about what you can do to protect white sharks.
- The California Fish and Game Commission
President James Kellogg and Commissioners
I am writing to support listing of the Northeastern Pacific population of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) as endangered or threatened under the California Endangered Species Act.
As top predators, sharks play a very important role in our ocean ecosystem, and are one of the few natural predators of seals and sea lions in California. However, the Northeastern Pacific white shark population, which ranges from Mexico to the Bering Sea, and offshore to Hawaii, is at risk. Population assessments estimate that there are only a few hundred adult sharks in this range, and they are vulnerable to ongoing threats, such as incidental catch, pollution, and other issues.
As a long-lived species with low reproductive rates, the recovery of white sharks is threatened. I am concerned that the continual decline of white sharks in the Northeastern Pacific will have a negative impact on the balance and health of our valuable and unique California Current ecosystem unless greater conservation measures are implemented. Listing the white shark will allow for additional public and scientific discussion, which will benefit the ability to manage and protect their population and the ecological benefits white sharks provide.
The primary documented threat to the Northeastern Pacific population of white sharks is commercial gillnet fishing. While fishing for white sharks is prohibited in the United States, there are no limits on white shark bycatch. Juvenile white sharks are entangled as bycatch by set and drift gillnet fisheries in their nursery habitats off the coast of California. Logbook records and observers indicate that these gillnet fisheries incidentally entangle juvenile white sharks— catching up to 25 white sharks annually off Southern California alone. Furthermore, observer coverage on these boats is low, so bycatch may even be higher.
Listing white sharks as endangered or threatened would serve several benefits; including increased onboard observer coverage in gillnet fisheries, implementation of management measures to minimize white shark bycatch, and promote research to better understand white shark population trends and threats in order to promote recovery. Please take action to list the Northeastern Pacific population of white sharks as threatened or endangered. Thank you for your consideration.
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