Oceana’s Dusky the Shark Comes to Nation’s Capitol to Save His Species
Oceana’s Dusky the Shark made his way to Washington, D.C. on Friday, November 14, 2014 to raise awareness of the threats dusky sharks face and the need to save his species. Dusky sharks off the Atlantic coast have declined by approximately 99 percent over the last 40 years as a result of overfishing and bycatch, which is the capture of non-target fish and ocean wildlife.
In 2010, more than 4,000 dusky sharks were captured as bycatch in just three longline fisheries in the southeast region, two of which were identified in Oceana’s report “Wasted Catch: Unsolved Problems in U.S. Fisheries” as some of the worst fisheries for bycatch in the United States. After learning about the dangers he faces, Dusky has come ashore to generate support for government action to end overfishing of his species. As many as 75,000 dusky sharks may have been caught as bycatch since they were officially prohibited from being targeted in 2000, leaving their populations struggling to recover.
“The federal government has admitted that dusky sharks have been overfished for the past ten years, yet has failed to put protections in place to protect this severely depleted species, even though it’s required by law,” said Oceana campaign director Dominique Cano-Stocco. “Very few people are aware of the decimation of dusky sharks that is happening right off our coasts. The public needs to stand up and demand the government take action now, before it’s too late.”
In August, Dusky made his first-ever appearance at Discovery SHARK WEEK’s FinFest in Hermosa Beach, CA. Dusky’s appearances at FinFest and in Washinton, D.C. are only the first stops on the journey he will be taking as part of his “bucket list” campaign, where he will meet supporters, raise awareness and secure federal protections for dusky sharks in order to end overfishing.
Despite the federal government acknowledging that dusky sharks were severely depleted nearly two decades ago, northwest Atlantic dusky sharks are still being overfished today due to federal inaction.
Starting in 2000, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) prohibited fishermen from intentionally catching dusky sharks in an attempt to reduce mortality and help to rebuild the population. At that time, NMFS didn’t account for bycatch, and as a result, the northwest Atlantic population was still being overfished three years later. After more than a decade , the populations are still struggling and the federal government has failed to implement regulations that will reduce bycatch and end overfishing of dusky sharks.
In order to end overfishing of dusky sharks as required by law, in 2012, NMFS proposed to set limits on the number of dusky sharks that could be caught and killed as bycatch and close certain areas to longlines if those limits were reached. These measures were strongly supported by conservation groups and scientists alike, but NMFS withdrew its proposal after receiving complaints from fishermen in 2013, again leaving dusky sharks unprotected and overfished.
In April, Oceana submitted recommendations to the federal government, calling on NMFS to end overfishing by implementing bycatch limits as well as closing dusky hotspot areas to longlines. NMFS should also ensure sufficient monitoring is in place so that bycatch limits are not exceeded.
For more information about Dusky’s Bucket List campaign and to view more pictures of Dusky’s DC visit, please visit www.oceana.org/Dusky.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.
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