Posted by: reefrescue | September 17, 2013

Urgent – Help protect Fla. Lemon Sharks

Please help us PROTECT the aggregating lemon sharks in Jupiter, Florida.

sharklab

These mature sharks are incredibly VULNERABLE to overfishing during the period of January to April. The 2013 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season opened in January 2013 as opposed to previous years summer opening times, thus severely endangering this aggregation. These lemon sharks are both ecologically and economically important to Florida and need to be protected.

It is important for the public to submit constructive comments to NOAA before the 23rd September 2013. To do so please follow the three steps below: –

Step 1: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0112

Step 2: Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon.

Step 3: Complete the required fields and enter or attach your comments.

Below we have included a selection of talking points to help you make useful comments to be taken on board by NOAA.

· We oppose the proposed rule that the 2014 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season open on January 1 based on its negative effect on the regional lemon shark aggregation off the coast of Jupiter, Florida. To relieve fishing pressure on a vulnerable population, we recommend the fishing season open on the July 1 date, when the seasonal distribution of lemon sharks is not as concentrated.

· Although the opening season criteria used by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) includes “variation in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migratory patterns of the different species or management groups based on scientific and fishery information” we are concerned that significant negative effect that this opening date could have on the well-documented aggregation has not been considered or adequately addressed.

· Lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) are biologically vulnerable to overfishing considering their conservative life history strategy.

· Lemon sharks demonstrate specific behavioral ecology resulting in a predictable annual aggregation. The aggregation is well-documented and highly publicized among the public. This characteristic means that the sharks, during this season, are extremely vulnerable to being easily targeted to quickly fill quotas because of the density of the aggregation.

· This specific aggregation of lemon sharks is extremely valuable to the regional SCUBA diving industry that markets the natural aggregation for recreational dives. This aggregation has gained wide attention and is considered one of the best opportunities to dive, view, and photograph sharks in their natural environment. The socioeconomic benefit of the aggregation is significant to this region of Florida’s economy. The declines that are already underway have been reflected in anecdotal evidence by the recreational diving community. Diving professionals who have witnessed the aggregation first-hand for several years have reported much smaller numbers of lemon sharks or difficulty in finding the aggregation at all.

· Regulatory measures implemented in 2006 to protect sandbar sharks have increased pressures on other large coastal species, including lemon sharks. The current data suggest the population of aggregating lemon sharks is experiencing declines. On average, there has been a 10-15% decline in redetection rates per year since 2007, indicating harvest rates are too high for the population to ever recover, even under maximum recovery rates for this species.

 

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Reef Rescue – Coral Reef Blog.

  2. […] September we asked you to join with the Bimini Shark Lab and request the  NMFS not allow commercial harvesting of Lemon Sharks during their annual […]

    • It is a TRAVESTY to even THINK about this early opening, MUCH LESS DOING IT , of the Harvesting of Lemon Sharks off of Jupiter and all of Palm beach County. They are SO VULNERABLE DURING THEIR SPAWNING !!! Our Eco-systems are HURTING enough from the discharging from Lake O., for the 5 months we Endured!! Our Reef Eco-systems are Diseased Now and the Lemon Sharks are Helping to Control the Diseased Fish Populations from all of the Nitrates, Phosphates, Algae Blooms etc. That Have Been DUMPED Into Our ESTUARIES. STOP THIS INSANITY NOW NOAA, YOU KNOW BETTER THAN THIS !! EVEN OUR ECONOMY IN PB COUNTY DEPENDS ON THESE BEAUTIFUL SHARKS !! STOP NOW !! Lee Shepard at Intracoastal Eco-systems


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