- Conservation Groups Ask For Great White Shark Protection
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Seeks Public’s Help with Lionfish Invasion
- US Researcher Discovers 3 Lost Shark Species of Kiribati
Three major conservation groups, Oceana, Shark Stewards, and the Center for Biological Diversity are petitioning the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the great white sharks of the Pacific as endangered, making them off-limits entirely to fishermen. The groups’ explanation is that the great white population of the Pacific is genetically different from other populations, and recent studies have indicated that there may be just a few hundred remaining. They list the Pacific great white’s threats as chemical pollution and nets that trap an average of 10 juveniles per year. If the endangered status is approved, more funding will be given to increased protection for great white habitat as well as continuing research.
Florida’s lionfish invasion has become so dire that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have changed some fishing rules to allow for more people to start catching the pests in order to save their reefs. Lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific, are indiscriminate predators, with virtually no natural predators of their own in these foreign waters. They gobble up literally anything and everything, including juvenile species who haven’t yet had a chance to spawn. Reports of reefs devoid of any fish save for lionfish are increasing, which opens up the lionfishing arena to just about anyone who can handle a spear. The changed rules are effective through August 2013, and are as follows:
- A recreational fishing license is not required when using a Hawaiian sling, pole spear, handheld net, or any other device designed specifically for catching lionfish.
- There is no recreational or commercial bag limit for lionfish.
These changes apply only to state waters, and do not apply to areas where spearfishing is prohibited. Florida officials are encouraging the public to do their part to help eradicate this destructive species. Not to worry though — word is out that lionfish is one tasty dish, and spearing them can be as easy as getting close enough to release the spear.
A lecturer from Columbia University discovered that three shark species had gone extinct from Kiribati, a tropical island nation located in the South Pacific, off the northeast corner of Australia. Using Kiribati weapons made from shark teeth between 1840-1880 and comparing them with other tooth samples kept at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Joshua Drew was able to identify the teeth as belonging to spottail, dusky, and bignose sharks, species that are more commonly seen in the waters of the Solomon Islands or Fiji. The fact that the weapons of Kiribati were constructed from these specific sharks proves that these islands were also once home to these sharks, but overfishing likely led to their extinction in this region.