Calif. shark protections set to go into effect

March 1, 2013 - 4:29 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Great white sharks off the coast of California will likely enjoy greater protection, as state officials consider whether to add the predator to California's list of endangered species.

The California Fish and Game Commission unanimously voted last month to advance the candidacy of the shark for inclusion on the state endangered species list. That means during a one-year study review the shark will receive the same protections as if it were listed as endangered.

The commission was expected to publish last month's decision on Friday, a move that would officially launch the protections, state wildlife officials said.

Great white sharks are internationally protected and already can't be targeted for catch. But the additional restrictions will also ban incidental takes by net fishermen.

"While targeted sport and commercial fishing for white shark has been banned in waters off California since the mid-1990s, there were some exceptions that allowed for incidental take and take associated with research activities," said Marci Yaremko, program manager for state and federal marine fisheries at the state department of fish and game.

Under the enhanced rules, researchers and gillnet fishermen will have to apply to the Department of Fish and Wildlife for permits to tag or accidentally capture a shark or risk criminal prosecution.

Gillnet fishermen have voiced opposition to the shark review, saying the shark population is not in jeopardy and greater protections are not needed.

The shark review is also expected to provide an estimate of the number of great white sharks in state waters.