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Closure of Commercial Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks in Gulf of Mexico

March 08, 2018

Commercial landings of aggregated large coastal sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region has exceeded 80 percent of the available quota.

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Commercial landings of aggregated large coastal sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region has exceeded 80 percent of the available quota as of March 8, 2018. When landings exceed 80 percent the aggregated large coastal shark and hammerhead shark groups in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region must close together, as they are linked.  

The blacktip shark quota is not linked to the others and landings have not reached 80 percent of the available quota as of March 8, 2018. However, NOAA Fisheries is authorized to close the blacktip shark management group before landings have reached, or are projected to reach, 80 percent of the quota, after considering various criteria and other relevant factors. In this case, NOAA Fisheries is closing the blacktip shark fishery in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region to minimize discards of shark in the aggregated large coastal shark management group in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region. 

NOAA Fisheries closed these shark fisheries in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region as of 11:30 p.m. local time March 13, 2018. The management groups for those specified quotas will remain closed, even across fishing years. 

Table 1.  2018 Quotas and Landings for Blacktip, Aggregated LCS, and Hammerhead Sharks in the Western Gulf of Mexico Sub-Region

Western Gulf of Mexico Management Group

2018 Quota

Landings reported as of March 8, 2017

Closure Date

Blacktip Sharks

347.2 mt dw

265.9 mt dw

(77% of quota)

March 13, 2018

Aggregated large coastal sharks*

72.0 mt dw

61.7 mt dw

(86% of quota)

March 13, 2018

Hammerhead Sharks*

11.9 mt dw

6.8 mt dw

(57% of quota)

March 13, 2018

* Management groups are linked and close at the same time

During the closure, retention of blacktip sharks, aggregated large coastal sharks, and/or hammerhead sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region is prohibited. 

During this closure, a shark dealer may not purchase or receive of blacktip sharks, aggregated large coastal sharks, and/or hammerhead sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region.

A permitted shark dealer or processor may possess blacktip sharks, aggregated LCS, and/or hammerhead sharks in the western Gulf of Mexico sub-region that were harvested by a vessel issued a valid shark research fishery permit and with a NOAA Fisheries-approved observer onboard during the trip the sharks were harvested as long as the large coastal shark research fishery quota remains open. 

A shark dealer issued a permit may purchase or receive blacktip sharks, aggregated large coastal sharks, and/or hammerhead sharks if the sharks were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered from a vessel fishing only in state waters.