Sharks on the Line


The oceanic whitetip shark was federally listed as threatened last year.
Credit: NOAA

The very image of a shark strikes fear in the hearts of surfers and swimmers around the globe. But when it comes to oceanic whitetip sharks and their interactions with the longline fishery, the predator has become the prey – so much so that the once abundant species has been federally listed as threatened.

Now the government faces the threat of a lawsuit, and the fishery faces the threat of closure, unless swift action is taken to meaningfully reduce those interactions.

And that’s just one of the hurdles the Hawai‘i longline fleet faces. Swordfish boats had hardly left Honolulu harbor before their fishery was shut down last month after reaching the annual limit of loggerhead turtle interactions. And in February, a large swath of fishing grounds south of Hawai‘i was closed after two false killer whales were determined to have been killed or mortally injured by the bigeye tuna fleet in federal waters.

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