Hammerhead Sharks Get Needed Federal Protections

July 3, 2014


Melanie Gade:  Mgade@defenders.org ; (202) 772-0288

Jay Tutchton: jtutchton@defenders.org cell (720) 301-3843

Hammerhead Sharks Get Needed Federal Protections:

 First Time in History a Shark is Listed under the Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON – Four key populations of scalloped hammerhead sharks were listed today under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the first time in history a shark species has received federal protections under the ESA. The scalloped hammerhead shark is a highly imperiled species and is considered globally endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is targeted primarily for its fins but is also killed as “by-catch” in fisheries targeting other species. 

NMFS listed scalloped hammerhead sharks living in the Eastern Atlantic and Eastern Pacific as endangered, and listed scalloped hammerhead sharks living in the Central and Southwest Atlantic and Indo-West Pacific as threatened. NMFS declined to list scalloped hammerhead sharks living in the Northwest Atlantic or Central Pacific.

Jay Tutchton, Senior Staff Attorney with Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:

“This is great news for hammerhead sharks. The National Marine Fisheries Service deserves credit for moving to protect a shark species headed towards extinction. This is what the Endangered Species Act is for and we’re glad to see National Marine Fisheries Service embracing this valuable tool for wildlife conservation.

“Today’s listing is a significant step in the right direction, but there is still much work to be done. Defenders looks forward to working with the National Marine Fisheries Service on implementing habitat protections for these sharks within U.S. waters in order to give these animals a fair shot at recovery.”


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @defendersnews.

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