Monday February 6, 2023


New research has found that carefully managed fisheries can help dwindling shark and ray populations recover, illustrating a pathway for protecting species from fishing pressure.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study analyzed several decades’ worth of trends in fishing pressure, fisheries management, and population status of 26 shark and ray species found in the western Atlantic. It determined that some shark populations in the northwest Atlantic bounced back after the U.S. implemented a management plan in 1993, while shark populations in areas without sufficient management often declined.

For instance, the study found that the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) population in U.S. coastal waters experienced annual declines of about 0.07% between 1961 and 1993. But after the establishment of the management plan, white sharks began to increase by 0.1% each year, despite ongoing fishing pressure. Other shark species have also mounted recoveries following the U.S. management plan, including tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier), scalloped hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini), great hammerheads (S. mokarran), bonnethead sharks (S. tiburo) and dusky smooth-hounds (Mustelus canis).

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