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Atlantic Sharks: 30 Years of Successes and Lessons

July 13, 2023

NOAA Fisheries has successfully managed Atlantic highly migratory sharks for 30 years. Learn about some of the challenges of assessing shark stocks and combatting misinformation about sharks.

Two blacktip sharks swimming Blacktip sharks. Credit: iStock.

Sharks inspire strong reactions in people. They're beloved, respected, and sometimes feared. They hold a distinct place in our imaginations and culture. In fact, the 1975 film Jaws actually contributed to conditions that led the federal government to create an Atlantic shark management plan in 1993. However, when strong emotions are involved, the conversation about how sharks are handled and managed can become muddled and confusing.

In this episode, we'll learn about sharks—specifically Atlantic highly migratory sharks—managed by NOAA Fisheries, and discuss the challenges to assessing shark stocks and combatting shark myths that lead to lasting misconceptions and strong public feelings. We'll hear from Karyl Brewster-Geisz, the branch chief for regulations of the Atlantic HMS Management Division, and Dr. Enric Cortés, a senior scientist at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center.

Sharks have been caught recreationally in the United States since at least the 19th century but were not commercially caught in any significance until the 1920s. In the late 1980s, the five fishery management councils along the Atlantic coast were concerned about the status of sharks and how much fishing pressure was going on in those species. They asked the Secretary of Commerce to manage sharks. In 1992, NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center produced a stock assessment final report that showed that a number of shark species were overfished. That triggered a 1993 fishery management plan, which was the first federal fishery management plan for sharks. This year, we're celebrating the 30th anniversary of NOAA Fisheries' successful management of Atlantic highly migratory sharks!

Listen in to further explore the actions taken by NOAA Fisheries to assess and manage Atlantic shark populations, and to correct misinformation.

Last updated by Office of Communications on August 01, 2023