Extension of Emergency Regulations to Address Overfishing of North Atlantic Shortfin Mako Sharks

Overview

Fishing Type
Commercial, Recreational
Action Status
Emergency Rule
Published
08/22/2018
Point of Contact
Peter Cooper

Summary

NOAA Fisheries announces the extension of an emergency interim final rule originally implemented on March 2, 2018, to address overfishing of North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks. These measures, which are unchanged from the original emergency rule, will be effective through March 3, 2019. These measures are based on the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna's (ICCAT’s) Standing Committee for Research and Statistics benchmark stock assessment for North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks, which found the stock to be overfished with overfishing occurring. These temporary measures will be replaced by new measures being considered in Draft Amendment 11 to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan and its proposed rule. 

Who is affected?

  • Any commercial fishermen with HMS permits who interacts with shortfin mako sharks.
  • Any recreational fishermen who catch or target shortfin mako sharks.
  • Any tournament that has a prize category for shortfin mako sharks.
  • Any dealers who buy or sell shortfin mako sharks or products.

Commercial Measures

Live release of shortfin mako sharks in the commercial pelagic longline fishery, no landings of shortfin mako sharks by fishermen using other commercial gear types.

The recommendation requires the release of all shortfin mako sharks in a manner that causes the least harm while giving due consideration to the safety of crew members. Therefore, this emergency rule implements the following measures:  

  1. Fishermen using pelagic longline gear (who are already required to have a functional electronic monitoring system) must
         a) Release all live shortfin mako sharks with a     
             minimum of harm, while giving due consideration to
             the safety of crew members

         b) Retain a shortfin mako shark only if it is dead at
             haulback. 
  2. Fishermen using non-pelagic longline commercial gear (e.g., bottom longline, gillnet, handgear, etc)
             must release all shortfin sharks, alive or dead, with a
             minimum of harm, while giving due consideration to
             the safety of crew members. 

Recreational Measures

Recreational minimum size limit of 83 inches (210 cm) fork length for shortfin mako sharks.

The recommendation requires the release of all shortfin mako sharks in a manner that causes the least harm, while giving due consideration to the safety of crew members. Therefore, this emergency rule implements the following measures.

  1. Fishermen that hold an HMS Angling or Charter/Headboat permits, and fishermen that hold Atlantic Tunas General category and Swordfish General Commercial permits when participating in a registered HMS tournament are encouraged to practice catch and release of all shortfin mako sharks. 
  2. Fishermen that hold the above permits may only land a shortfin mako shark (male or female) if the shark meets the following minimum size: 83 inches (210 cm) fork length.      

When will this happen?

These measures have been effective since March 2, 2018, and are now extended through March 3, 2019. 

Is there an Environmental Assessment for this emergency rule?

Final Environmental Assessment (PDF, 73 pages)

Can I comment on this emergency rule extension?

No. The public comment period for this action closed May 7, 2018. You can still provide comments on Draft Amendment 11 and its proposed rule. The comment period for Draft Amendment 11 is open until October 1, and several public hearings are scheduled. 

For more information on these emergency measures, please contact the HMS Management Division at (301) 427-8503.

Federal Register

Supporting Materials

Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on 09/13/2018