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Statement: Aquarium Encouraged by Finding that Great White Shark at 'Low Risk of Extinction'
Statement from Margaret Spring, vice president of conservation and science of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, on the decision today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration not to list the northeastern Pacific population of great white sharks under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Background: Margaret Spring served as Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and Chief of Staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Spring earlier served with The Nature Conservancy’s California chapter as director of its coastal and marine program, and Senior Counsel, then General Counsel, to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, where she advised members of Congress on ocean issues and developing key ocean legislation. At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, she oversees the aquarium’s research programs involving sea otters, great white sharks, Pacific bluefin tuna and other species, as well as its respected Seafood Watch program and ocean policy advocacy efforts.
Ken Peterson, 841-648-4922 or 831-238-3632; firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Jeffries, 831-644-7548 or 831-238-0514; email@example.com
MONTEREY, Calif., June 28 – The Monterey Bay Aquarium is encouraged by the conclusion announced today by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists, who determined that the northeastern Pacific population of great white sharks is a distinct population segment that, given current protections, is at a low risk of extinction under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The aquarium appreciates NOAA’s thorough review and synthesis of the best available information on great white shark status and threats. We look forward to reviewing the Biological Review Team’s full report when it is available on Monday (July 1). We are fully committed to supporting rigorous science, public education efforts and ocean policy reform to ensure that great white sharks do not become more vulnerable in the future.
For more than a decade, we and our research colleagues from Stanford, UC Davis, CSU Long Beach and other institutions have generated most of the data about adult and juvenile great white sharks in the northeastern Pacific that were considered in NOAA’s review. We will continue this work so we can gain a better understanding of population trends and the overall health of sharks that play a vital role in ocean health.
We will continue to raise public awareness about the threats facing great white sharks and other marine species, and to advocate for policies that protect the health of ocean habitats and wildlife. We were the lead sponsor of legislation in California that takes final effect on July 1, ending the shark fin trade in the state. And we support the state’s Marine Life Protection Act, through which California created the largest network of marine protected areas in the nation.
I’m encouraged by the growing public concern for the fate of sharks, as evidenced by current and proposed shark protection measures and the increasing focus on understanding the biology and status of oceanic sharks, such as the northeastern Pacific great white shark population. These are positive signs that people recognize the vital role sharks play in ocean ecosystems.
Our live exhibits play a part in the evolution of public attitudes. We’ve put more than 52 million people face to face with sharks and other ocean animals since we opened in 1984. More than 3 million people have seen young great white sharks at the aquarium since 2004. Our audience research studies document that the inspirational impact of these encounters has changed attitudes and inspired many visitors to support protection for white sharks in the wild.
The aquarium won’t collect white sharks for exhibit in 2013, and we’ll evaluate our white shark exhibit program after the State of California acts next spring on a similar petition under the California Endangered Species Act.