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Porbeagle Sharks Get a Chance for Legal Protections
Washington, DC—Porbeagle sharks are getting a new chance at needed protections, thanks to a federal court ruling last week. The court found that the National Marine Fisheries Service (Fisheries Service) erred when it rejected a petition to list porbeagle sharks under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) submitted by WildEarth Guardians in 2010. The agency must go back to the drawing board and re-examine the decision.
“Porbeagle sharks deserve protections, and the National Marine Fisheries Service needs to stop dodging the issue and take a renewed look at the facts,” said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians.
Since 1961, the Northwest Atlantic population of porbeagles has declined 90 percent due to heavy fishing pressure. Their meat is highly valued in Europe and they are also fished for their fins, hides, and livers. In September 2014, the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) listed porbeagle sharks under Appendix II, which puts increased restrictions on international trade in exploited species.
“The international community believes porbeagles need better protections from human exploitation, and the CITES listing reinforces the need for the Fisheries Service to protect these rare sharks,” continued Jones.
Protection under the ESA is an effective safety net for imperiled species: more than 99 percent of plants and animals protected by the law exist today. The law is especially important as a defense against the current extinction crisis; species are disappearing at a rate much higher than the natural rate of extinction due to human activities. Scientists estimate that 227 species would have gone extinct if not for ESA protections.