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Oceana sues federal government for failing to protect dusky sharks

shishihenge/Wikimedia Commons

Environmental advocacy group Oceana is suing the federal government for failing to protect dusky sharks from overfishing.

Since 2000, the National Marine Fisheries Service has prohibited fishermen from targeting the dusky shark, a large brown shark known to swim up and down the Atlantic coast. However, their numbers continue to drop--their population has shrunk 85 percent over the past two decades.

Oceana has sued NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Department of Commerce for not properly enforcing the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary law governing federal fisheries, in regards to the dusky shark.


“We are hoping that this lawsuit will convince the fisheries service to take action and to rebuild the [dusky shark] population," said Lora Snyder, Oceana's campaign manager.

Oceana claims that the federal government failed to establish an annual catch limit for the species and failed to  prevent dusky’s from being subject to bycatch, when a species is unintentionally caught by fishermen. Snyder says that federal agencies should be using scientific research available to help fishermen identify and avoid places where dusky sharks tend to be.


“We would hope that the fisheries services would look into those ‘hot spots’ and consider potential closures of those areas and times when they know duskys are present," said Snyder.

National Marine Fisheries estimates that as many as 75,000 dusky sharks have been caught and discarded as bycatch in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.


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