Sea Shepherd Legal Submits Comments Encouraging NMFS To List the Smooth Hammerhead and Bigeye Thresher under the ESA

Sea Shepherd Legal (SSL), together with Friends of Animals and Turtle Island Restoration Network, recently submitted comments encouraging the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to list the smooth hammerhead and bigeye thresher sharks as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  SSL’s comments are available here and here.


The smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena) is targeted for its fins and suffers from a high rate of by-catch mortality.

ca. 1990-2002, Cocos Island National Park, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica --- Bigeye Thresher Shark's Head --- Image by © Jeffrey L. Rotman/Corbis

Bigeye Thresher Shark’ — Photo credit: Jeffrey L. Rotman/Corbis

The smooth hammerhead and bigeye thresher are targeted primarily for their fins.  At its worst — and at its most typical — finning involves hacking off the shark’s fins and throwing back the carcass — while the sharks are alive.  (For a glimpse of this horrific practice, see  The process is as irresponsible as it is barbaric.  Shark populations, including populations of these two species, are crashing at alarming rates around the world.

The threat presented by shark finning is magnified by the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms at the global scale.  Despite the intense fishing pressure on these sharks—from directed commercial, artisanal, and recreational fishing, exacerbated via indiscriminate by-catch—laws protecting these species are anemic.  International agreements on sharks are few and far between.  Where they exist, these agreements lack regulatory teeth and enforcement power.  Laws at the national level are not much better.  Indeed, some of the biggest shark-fishing nations (e.g. Pakistan) lack any laws specific to sharks.  Other nations lack any meaningful capacity to enforce laws on the books.  Even the nations that seem to boast the combination of tailored legislation and enforcement power—like members of the European Union—wither under scrutiny.  Their laws are rife with loopholes and enforcement of even basic catch limits is grossly inadequate.

In short, existing regulatory mechanisms are part of the problem.  Laws are failing sharks in all corners of the world.

Help us protect sharks like the smooth hammerhead and bigeye thresher by donating now.

Nota: Una traducción al español estará disponible muy pronto.


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