Oceanic Whitetips Protected Under Endangered Species Act!

Wonderful news in the elasmobranch community! The National Marine Fisheries Service announced yesterday it has given the Oceanic Whitetip Shark “Threatened” status under the Endangered Species Act! The ruling, which will go into effect March 1, 2018, came in response to a petition by the Defenders of Wildlife and gives these sharks additional protections with the elevated status.

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Skerry, B. (Photographer) (2016). Oceanic whitetips and pilot fish share the water [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/

The ruling summary by the NMFS can be read below.

Summary

In response to a petition by Defenders of Wildlife, we, NMFS, are issuing a final rule to list the oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharinus lonigmanus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We have reviewed the status of the oceanic whitetip shark, including efforts being made to protect the species, and considered public comments submitted on the proposed listing rule as well as new information received since publication of the proposed rule. Based on all of this information, we have determined that the oceanic whitetip shark warrants listing as a threatened species. At this time, we conclude that critical habitat is not determinable because data sufficient to perform the required analyses are lacking; however, we solicit information on habitat features and areas in U.S. waters that may meet the definition of critical habitat for the oceanic whitetip shark.

Additional information, including the Federal Register and Supporting Documents can be found on NOAA’s website.

In an ideal world, no species would ever grace the Endangered Species Act. Nor would it be considered a “success” to get a species more protection under the act. However, this is unfortunately our reality and conservationists are fighting to help pass legislation that will help further protect our threatened species from extinction.

Petitions, like the one submitted by the Defenders of Wildlife, and public opinion of conservation initiatives on behave of wildlife have a huge impact on legislation. For a long time sharks have suffered from poor public image and it has reflected in their protection efforts. It is critically important that we continue to speak up for sharks.

Remember you can make a difference for marine ecosystems by contacting your Congress man or woman and telling them that you care about the quality of our waters! Sharks, rays, and other marine organisms cannot speak or be represented in Congress. They need your voice. Get involved and stand up for sharks.

The new Ocean For Sharks Shop is open! There’s handmade ocean inspired plush animals, canvas paintings, and of course my children’s book, Winifred the Wondrous Whale Shark, available in print and PDF. Be sure to stop by. Remember proceeds benefit shark research and conservation with a donation to Project AWARE! Until next time finatics.

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Featured Image Source

Skerry, B. (Photographer) (2016). Two whitetips are now a crowd, but 50 years ago they could be seen by the hundreds [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/

Literature Cited

NOAA Fisheries (2018, January 30). Listing the Oceanic Whitetip Shark as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Retrieved January 31, 2018, from https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/listing-oceanic-whitetip-shark-threatened-under-endangered-species-act

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