On September 4, Ocearch 'Shark Wranglers' will head out to capture and tag great white sharks off the coast of Massachusetts, under the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) permit issued by NOAA. DMF and NOAA have failed to answer the question, “what are the actionable conservation goals of the project here?”
The white shark is already a protected species in the United States. Dr. Greg Skomal of the DMF has already been successfully tagging and tracking white sharks using minimally invasive methods working with local boat captains.
A Boston Herald article mentions Ocearch and DMF interest in collecting bacteria samples to create an antibiotic for shark bites and conducting stress physiology tests. This data was just collected in South Africa. Furthermore, a simple Google search will show antibiotics to treat infection from shark bites already exist and NOAA’s own guidelines on 'how to maximize shark survivability' during catch and release clearly state; “reduce fight times, long fight times put stress on the fish.” The Ocearch fishermen intentionally exhaust the shark through long fight times on the end of the line so that the shark is more manageable when it is hauled out of water.
Many researchers are speaking out against the invasive and unnecessary methods used by Ocearch to collect data on great white sharks when other methods are available. In light of knowingly putting a protected species in harms way, collecting duplicate or unnecessary data, having alternate research methods available, and not having an actionable/enforceable conservation goal in place, the DMF should remove Ocearch from its permit.