Glossary: Shark Fisheries Management
Definitions for the most technical common terms related to shark fisheries management.
Annual Catch Limits
A limit on the total annual catch of a stock or stock complex, which cannot exceed the acceptable biological catch, which serves as the basis for invoking accountability measures.
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The number and/or size of a species that a person can legally take in a day or trip. This may or may not be the same as a possession limit.
Fish other than the primary target species that are caught incidental to the harvest of the primary species. Bycatch may be retained or discarded. Discards may occur for regulatory or economic reasons.
A fishing hook originally designed and manufactured so that the point is turned perpendicularly back to the shank to form a generally circular, or oval, shape.
The amount of fish participants in commercial fisheries are allowed to catch each year, usually defined in terms of total weight.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
A voluntary international agreement between governments aimed at ensuring the international trade of specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Essential Fish Habitat
Congress defined Essential Fish Habitat as “those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity”. Waters include aquatic areas and their associated physical, chemical, and biological properties that are used by fish and may include aquatic areas historically used by fish where appropriate; substrate includes sediment, hard bottom, structures underlying the waters, and associated biological communities; necessary means the habitat required to support a sustainable fishery and the managed species’ contribution to a healthy ecosystem; and “spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity” covers a species’ full life cycle.
Learn more about Essential Fish Habitat.
Exclusive Economic Zone
The Exclusive Economic Zone is the area that extends from the seaward boundaries of the coastal states (3 nautical miles in most cases, the exceptions are Texas, Puerto Rico and the Gulf coast of Florida at 9 nautical miles) to 200 nautical miles off the U.S. coast.
The potential reproductive capacity of an organism or population expressed in the number of eggs (or offspring) produced during each reproductive cycle.
Fishery Management Plan
A plan containing conservation and management measures for fishery resources, and other provisions required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, developed by Fishery Management Councils or the Secretary of Commerce.
A measurement of the rate of removal from a population by fishing.
The living resources in the community or population from which catches are taken in a fishery. Use of the term fish stock usually implies that the particular population is more or less isolated from other stocks of the same species and hence self-sustaining. In a particular fishery, the fish stock may be one or several species of fish but here it is also intended to include commercial invertebrates and plants.
Habitat Areas of Particular Concern
Subsets of essential fish habitat that serve an important ecological function, are particularly sensitive to human-induced environmental degradation, are particularly stressed by human development activities, or comprise a rare habitat type.
Highly Migratory Species
The Magnuson Stevens Act defines “highly migratory species” to mean tuna species, marlin (Tetrapturus spp. and Makaira spp.), oceanic sharks, sailfish (Istiophorus spp.), and swordfish (Xhihias gladius).
International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
The Commission is one of many regional fisheries management organizations where countries and fishing entities come together to discuss and develop international fisheries management measures.
It oversees the conservation and management of a variety of Atlantic marine species, including tunas, swordfish, marlin and sharks, and adopts measures to minimize bycatch of turtles and seabirds associated with these fisheries. This responsibility is shared among its 52 members, including the United States.
Large Coastal Shark
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico blacktip, bull, great hammerhead, lemon, nurse, sandbar, scalloped hammerhead, silky, smooth hammerhead, spinner, and tiger sharks.
Maximum Sustainable Yield
The largest average catch or yield that can continuously be taken from a stock under existing environmental conditions. For species with fluctuating recruitment, the maximum might be obtained by taking fewer fish in some years than in others.
With respect to a shark fin, naturally attached means attached to the corresponding shark carcass through some portion of uncut skin.
A stock is considered “overfished” when its population size is considered too low to achieve an appropriate level on a continuing basis.
Overfishing occurs when the rate or level of fishing mortality jeopardizes the capacity of a stock to produce maximum sustainable yield on a continuing basis.
Blue, oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, shortfin mako, and thresher sharks.
For a depleted stock, or population, rebuilding allows the stock to grow back to a predefined target level.
A cap on how many animals a fisherman can catch and keep during a single fishing trip or day.
The practice of removing a shark’s fins and dumping the rest of the body at sea. Shark finning does not refer to the practice of removing the fins from the shark carcass once the shark carcass has been landed.
Small Coastal Shark
Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Atlantic sharpnose, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico blacknose, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico bonnethead, and finetooth sharks.
The process of collecting and analyzing biological and statistical information to determine the changes in the abundance of fishery stocks in response to fishing, and, to the extent possible, to predict future trends of stock abundance. Stock assessments are based on resource surveys; knowledge of the habitat requirements, life history, and behavior of the species; the use of environmental indices to determine the impacts on stocks; and catch statistics. Stock assessments are used as a basis to assess and specify the present and probably future condition of a fishery.
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Fishing activities that do not cause or lead to undesirable changes in the biological and economic productivity, biological diversity, or ecosystem structure and functioning from one human generation to the next.
Learn more about fishing.
- Steps to sustainable sharks
- Fishermen keep shark fishing sustainable
- U.S. caught sharks are a sustainable food choice
Offloading and onloading or otherwise transferring fish or fish products and/or transporting fish or products made from fish.