Thursday, 22 November 2012

Government to impose new limits on shark fishing

The government plans to require almost all sharks landed by recreational fishermen off the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico to measure at least 8 feet from nose to fork in the tail, a move that some recreational fishermen said will end their sport but that conservationists say is needed to save an imperiled species.

The debate over how best to protect the dusky shark — which can migrate hundreds of miles in a season but whose juveniles return every summer to the mid-Atlantic — highlights the complicated task of recovering shark species.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has prohibited the catch of dusky sharks since 1999, but scientists found its population to be so depleted that it will take 100 years for it to recover.

The dusky shark, which averages nearly 12 feet in length and 400 pounds, takes two decades to reach sexual maturity and has small litters every three years, which makes it vulnerable to overfishing.

The environmental group WildEarth Guardians has petitioned to list the dusky shark under the Endangered Species Act.

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