About The Species
U.S. wild-caught Pacific shortfin mako shark is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Above target population levels.
At recommended levels.
Gear used to catch shortfin mako does not contact the ocean floor, so there is no impact to habitat.
Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.
According to the 2018 stock assessment, North Pacific shortfin mako sharks are not overfished, and are not subject to overfishing.
- Shortfin mako sharks have pointed snouts and long gill slits.
- They have dark blue-gray backs, light metallic blue sides, and white undersides.
- Their teeth are conical and pointy and protrude forward from the jaw, making them visible even when their mouth is closed.
- They can be easily confused with the longfin mako shark (Isurus paucus).
- Shortfin mako sharks grow slowly and can grow up to 12 feet, although average size is 6 to 7 feet.
- They have a long lifespan, and can live up to 30 years.
- They do not reproduce until late in life, when males are about 8 years old and females are around 20 years old.
- They have a 3-year reproductive cycle, including a 15- to 18-month gestation period.
- Eggs are fertilized internally, and develop inside the mother. Pups are born alive, and are fairly large when born.
- They’re aggressive predators and feed near the top of the food chain on squid and pelagic fish (including swordfish, tuna, and other sharks).
- They have very few predators. Larger sharks and killer whales sometimes prey on younger, smaller shortfin makos.
Where They Live
- In the eastern Pacific, they’re found from the Columbia River to Chile.
- Off the West Coast, they’re most common off California.
- In the Indo-Pacific, they are found from East Africa and the Red Sea to Hawaii.
- NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the Pacific shortfin mako shark fishery on the West Coast.
- Managed under the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species:
- Permits are required to fish for highly migratory species, including shortfin mako sharks, and fishermen must maintain logbooks documenting their catch.
- Annual commercial harvest guidelines (a general objective for how much can be caught).
- Closed areas protect endangered turtles.
- Fishermen are required to take a training course on safe handling and release of protected species.
- Mandatory placement (about 20 percent coverage) of at-sea observers on commercial drift gillnet vessels to monitor catch, bycatch, and fishing effort.
- Fishing times and areas are tightly managed to reduce the risk of catching protected species, such as sea turtles, whales, and dolphins.
- NOAA Fisheries and the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council manage the Pacific shortfin mako shark fishery in the Pacific Islands.
- Managed under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific:
- Entry to this fishery is limited to a maximum of 164 vessels.
- Permits and logbooks are required.
- Observers are required on all Hawaii-based longline vessels.
- NOAA Fisheries vessel monitoring system (VMS) program requires longline boats to be equipped with a satellite transponder that provides real-time vessel position updates and tracks vessel movements.
- Longlines are prohibited in certain areas to protect endangered Hawaiian monk seals and reduce the potential for gear conflicts and localized stock depletion.
- Vessels operating under longline general permits must carry special gear to release incidentally hooked or entangled sea turtles.
- There are no management measures specific to Pacific shortfin mako shark, because in the Western Pacific they’re only harvested incidentally in the longline fishery for swordfish.
- The Shark Conservation Act requires that all sharks, with one exception, be brought to shore with their fins naturally attached.
- Management of highly migratory species, like mako sharks, is complicated because the species migrate thousands of miles across international boundaries and are fished by many nations.
- Two international organizations, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), manage highly migratory species, like sharks, internationally.
- No international measures are in place specific to shortfin mako sharks, but both organizations have passed shark conservation and management measures that combat shark finning practices and encourage further research and periodic stock assessment efforts for sharks.