After a yearlong review process, a report by the Department of Fish and Wildlife determined that the great white shark should not be listed as threatened or endangered.
Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and Shark Stewards petitioned for more protections for the Northeastern Pacific white shark, which is genetically unique from other populations of white sharks near Australia and South Africa.
Even though the sharks are protected under federal and state law — it’s illegal for anyone to take, possess or sell one except for some research purposes — these groups wanted additional regulations and changes to commercial fishing rules. They especially want to limit gill-net fisheries from Point Conception to San Diego to avoid accidental capture of white sharks.
The DFW doesn't have an estimate of the shark population but believes it's higher than the 339 suggested by the petition.
The Fish and Game Commission is scheduled to discuss the report at the April 16 meeting in Ventura, but won’t make a final decision on the petition until a future meeting, said Jordan Traverso, communications director for the DFW’s Marine Region.
Petitioners wanted the white shark listed under the California Endangered Species Act, but the DFW report doesn’t support that request.
Research indicates that the white shark population is stable and most likely increasing, according to the report summary.
The Northeastern Pacific population white shark isn’t significantly threatened by predation, competition, disease or climate change, so the petition isn’t warranted, the report said.
It doesn’t have an imminent threat of extinction, but interactions between fisheries and juveniles is one of the primary risks, the report concluded. With that, the DFW recommends more research and coordination among agencies to help gather information about this species.
The Fish and Game Commission will receive the status report at the April 16 meeting at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel, 450 E. Harbor Blvd. in Ventura.