NOAA 03-R141
Contact: Susan Buchanon
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Public Hearings Scheduled; Comments Accepted until Sept. 30

NOAA Fisheries, an agency of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is proposing new regulations to rebuild overfished shark species and to stop overfishing on certain stocks. The proposed regulations would impact recreational and commercial fishing operations in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.

The latest stock assessments show that the small coastal shark complex, consisting of Atlantic sharpnose, blacknose, finetooth and bonnethead are in good shape. None of the species in the complex are overfished, and harvest levels are sustainable except for finetooth sharks, which are experiencing overfishing.

For large coastal sharks, stock assessments indicate that blacktip sharks are completely rebuilt and not experiencing overfishing and sandbar sharks are rebuilt, but still experiencing overfishing. The assessments also show that the large coastal shark complex as a whole, including sandbar, silky, tiger, blacktip, bull, spinner, lemon, nurse, smooth hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead and great hammerhead is overfished and harvest levels are not sustainable.

NOAA Fisheries developed these proposed regulations as part of Amendment 1 to the Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish and Sharks (also known as the Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan) to rebuild large coastal shark populations to healthy levels and stop overfishing activities.

Among the proposals in Amendment 1 are plans to revise the large coastal shark rebuilding plan; revise commercial quota levels; eliminate a commercial minimum size; revise recreational retention and size limits; establish handline and rod and reel as the only authorized gears in the recreational shark fishery; allow strikenet gear only (i.e., no drift gillnet) in the shark gillnet fishery; implement a time/area closure for bottom longline fishing in the mid-Atlantic region from January through July to protect nursery and pupping areas; and require vessel monitoring systems on shark bottom longline and gillnet vessels to enforce time/area closures.

All proposed changes to the regulations are listed in the Proposed Rule for draft Amendment 1, published in the Federal Register and available online at:

Written comments on the Proposed Rule must be received by 5 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2003. For more information, contact Karyl Brewster-Geisz, Heather Stirratt, or Chris Rilling at (301) 713-2347 or Greg Fairclough at (727) 570-5447. Written comments on the proposed rule should be submitted to Christopher Rogers, Chief, Highly Migratory Species Management Division; NOAA Fisheries; 1315 East-West Highway; Silver Spring, MD 20910; or by fax to (301) 713-1917.

NOAA Fisheries will also hold six public hearings during August and September to receive comments from interested constituents and members of the public on the
Proposed Rule. For the public hearing schedule, including dates and locations, go to

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries, please visit:

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. To learn more about NOAA, please visit