Protect California Great White Sharks Under the Endangered Species Act

Save California Great White Sharks From Extinction

The Pacific coast of California and Baja California, Mexico are home to a unique population of great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) that are genetically distinct and isolated from all other great white sharks around the globe. Scientists estimate that only a few hundred adult and sub-adult individual great white sharks remain in this population, meaning the continued existence of great white sharks on the US west coast is at risk.

Existing protections are not adequately protecting this species. Juvenile great white sharks continue to be killed as incidental bycatch in US and Mexican commercial fishing gillnets in important nursery areas for these young sharks. Under existing regulations, there are no limits on this bycatch, nor is there sufficient observer coverage in these fisheries. In addition, juvenile great white sharks off of southern California can be caught and killed by recreational fishermen who assume any small shark is edible, when if fact they have some of the highest levels of mercury, DDT, and PCBs found in any shark species worldwide.

Our ocean ecosystems need great white sharks.

As top ocean predators, great white sharks play a critical top-down role in structuring the marine ecosystem by keeping prey populations like seals and sea lions in check. The presence of great white sharks ultimately increases species diversity of the overall ecosystem.
The North East Pacific Population of great white sharks along the US West Coast requires additional protection as an endangered species because of its low population size and the ongoing threats from human activities. Endangered Species Act listing will be critical to effectively addressing the continued bycatch of great white sharks, while promoting additional scientific research on this dwindling population.

We urge the California Fish and Game Commission to consider protecting this population of great white sharks under the California Endangered Species Act.

Sincerely,
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