However, there is still more NOAA can do to help sharks in the United States.
One species of major concern is the dusky shark, whose populations have plummeted by 99 percent over the last 40 years due to overfishing and being caught on longlines in the Atlantic and Gulf. Despite the federal government acknowledging that dusky sharks were severely depleted nearly two decades ago, the northwest Atlantic population is still being overfished today due to continuing federal inaction.
The US should be a leader in shark conservation and management, and must take action to protect these vulnerable creatures, including setting limits on the number of dusky sharks that can be caught and closing certain areas to longlines if those limits are reached.
As apex predators, sharks play a critical role in maintaining the health and resilience of our marine ecosystems, and NOAA's decision to uphold the state shark fin trade bans set an important precedent for shark conservation worldwide. We commend NOAA for supporting sharks, not shark finners, and encourage the agency to act to protect dusky sharks before it's too late.