Emergency Regulations to Address Overfishing of North Atlantic Shortfin Mako Sharks

March 01, 2018

Amendment 11 implements internationally recommended management measures for North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks.

Shortfin Mako Shark

NOAA Fisheries announces an interim final rule to adopt internationally recommended management measures in the Atlantic highly migratory species fisheries. The emergency rule implements management measures to address overfishing of North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks. These measures are based on the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna'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. 

Who is affected?

  • Any commercial fishermen with highly migratory species permits who interacts with shortfin mako sharks.

  • Any recreational fishermen who catches or targets shortfin mako sharks.

  • Any tournament that has a prize category for shortfin mako sharks.

  • Any dealers who buys or sells shortfin mako sharks or products.

What are the measures?

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)

    1. Release all live shortfin mako sharks with a minimum of harm, while giving due consideration to the safety of crew members. 

    2. Retain a shortfin mako shark only if it is dead at haulback. 

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) FL 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. 

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) FL.

NOAA Fisheries has been promoting the live release of shortfin mako sharks since 2013 through the "Release Mako" app. It is a free app for mobile devices that allows fishermen to share information about releasing North Atlantic shortfin mako sharks. The Release Mako app is available for iOS and Android. 

When will this happen?

Measures are immediately effective on March 2, 2018. These measures are effective for up to 180 days from publication of the emergency rule, with a possible extension of up to 186 days, but are expected to be replaced by measures being considered in a proposed and final regulatory amendment currently under development. 

Is there an Environmental Assessment for this emergency rule?

Yes. The Environmental Assessment for the emergency rule is available on the HMS web page

Can I comment on this emergency rule?

Yes. Written comments may be submitted by May 7, 2018, to the HMS Management Division by either of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking portal and search NOAA-NMFS-2018-0010, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: Submit written comments to NMFS, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Mark the outside of the envelope ‘‘Comments on Atlantic Shortfin Mako Emergency Rule.’’

Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted on the Federal e-Rulemaking portal for public viewing on without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NOAA Fisheries will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

During the comment period, NOAA Fisheries will hold one public hearing for this interim final rule. 

Public Hearing

March 7, 2018 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
HMS Advisory Panel Meeting
Sheraton Silver Spring
8777 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on July 30, 2018