About The Species
U.S. wild-caught Atlantic sharpnose shark is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Above target population levels.
Fishing gears used to harvest Atlantic sharpnose shark have minimal impacts on habitat.
Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.
- According to the 2013 stock assessment, the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico stocks of Atlantic sharpnose shark are not overfished and not subject to overfishing.
- Atlantic sharpnose sharks are small for sharks and have a streamlined body.
- They get their name from their long, pointy snout.
- They are several different shades of gray and have a white underside.
- Adults have white spots on their sides and white along the edges of their pectoral fins.
- Young sharks have black on their dorsal (back) and caudal (tail) fin edges.
- The lower and upper jaws of an Atlantic sharpnose shark have 24 or 25 rows of triangular teeth.
- Atlantic sharpnose sharks can grow to up to 32 inches in length.
- They grow and mature at different rates in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
- Females mature at around 2 years old in the Atlantic when they reach approximately 24 inches in length, and at around 1.3 years old in the Gulf of Mexico when they are approximately 25 inches in length.
- Atlantic sharpnose sharks have been observed to live up to 18 years.
- In both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic sharpnose sharks mate annually between mid-May and mid-July in inshore waters.
- After mating they migrate offshore to deeper waters.
- The mother feeds the pups through a placental sac and after a gestation period of 10 to 11 months the females return to nearshore areas to give birth in June.
- Litters average approximately four pups in both the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic.
- Atlantic sharpnose sharks eat small fish, including menhaden, eels, silversides, wrasses, jacks, toadfish, and filefish. They also eat worms, shrimp, crabs, and mollusks.
- Large carnivorous fish, including large sharks, eat Atlantic sharpnose sharks.
Where They Live
- Atlantic sharpnose sharks are commonly found in the western Atlantic from New Brunswick, Canada, through the Gulf of Mexico, and are commonly caught in U.S. waters from Virginia to Texas.
- NOAA Fisheries and the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Division manage the Atlantic sharpnose shark fishery.
- Managed under the Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan:
- Permits are required, and only a limited number of permits are available.
- Commercial quotas and limits on how many sharks can be landed per fishing trip.
- Gear restrictions and requirements.
- Fishing season is generally year-round, but the sharpnose shark fishery, managed as part of the non-blacknose small coastal shark management group, may close when the landings are projected to reach 80 percent of the quota.
- Shark dealers are required to attend Atlantic shark identification workshops to help them better identify shark species.
- There are more than 20 species of sharks that cannot be landed (e.g., white, dusky, basking, longfin mako, night) and some of these species look similar to the species that can be landed. The recreational shark identification and the prohibited shark identification placards can help with identification.
- The Shark Conservation Act requires that Atlantic sharpnose sharks be brought to shore with their fins naturally attached.
- Compliance guides are available for all commercial and recreational regulations across Atlantic highly migratory species fisheries.
- There are no international management measures for Atlantic sharpnose sharks.
Recreational Fishing Regulations
Commercial Fishing Regulations
Subsistence Fishing Regulations
NOAA Fisheries conducts shark research in the Northeast, studying shark life history and performing long-term monitoring activities essential for stock assessment and management.