Great White Sharks: California's Endangered Species Act Protects Predator

Friday, 01 Mar 2013 02:37 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Great white sharks off the California coast are now protected under the state's endangered species act.

In February, the state's Fish and Game Commission agreed to include the world's largest known predatory fish as a candidate for state protection,but the inclusion did not become official until Friday.

In recent years great white shark populations have seen their numbers decrease significantly around the world due primarily to poachers, who target the fish for its fins and teeth, as well as sport fisherman who hunt it as a trophy. Additionally, sharks are often entangled in nets used by commercial fisheries, according to the World Wildllife Fund.

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"While targeted sport and commercial fishing for a white shark has been banned in waters off California since the mid 1990s, there were some exceptions that allowed for incidental take and take associated with research activities," said Marci Yaremko, the fisheries manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"The department now will consider exceptions only on a case-by-case basis and will authorize take only under permits."

According to the state's Endangered Species Act, "taking" is defined as hunting, pursuing, catching, capturing, or killing an animal, reported CBS Palm Springs, Calif. affiliate KESQ.

As a result of the classification, Yaremko's office will launch an exhaustive study into the apparently diminishing great white shark population off California. The investigation will take a year to complete and will result in an official report.

New Zealand is the only nation that has provided similar protections to great white sharks off it coasts. South Africa and Australia also have laws providing limited protections to the great whites sharks along their coastal waters.

On Wednesday, a shark possibly as long as 14 feet killed Adam Strange, a 46-year-old short film director, near a popular New Zealand beach. It is unclear what type of shark was responsible for the fatal attack.

On average there are just over 100 sharks attacks on humans annually; in comparison as many as 100 million sharks are killed by people each year, reported Mother Jones.

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In 2011, there were 17 reported fatalities stemming from 118 shark attacks worldwide.

Related story:

3 Calif. Beaches Closed after Deadly Shark Attack

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