For Immediate Release,
June 16, 2022
WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition today urging the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect the great hammerhead shark under the Endangered Species Act.
Today’s petition also asks the Service to designate critical habitat essential to the survival and recovery of the sharks, whose population has declined by more than 80% globally over the past 70 years. The great hammerhead is found off Hawaii and the U.S. East Coast, as well as in other warm temperate and tropical waters around the world.
“Great hammerheads are magnificent, but these huge, iconic animals desperately need federal help,” said Emily Jeffers, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “They’re being slaughtered for their fins and killed in great numbers by gillnets and other fishing gear. With Endangered Species Act protections, we can ensure the next generation will see these amazing creatures in the wild. Great hammerheads won’t be around much longer unless we act now.”
The great hammerhead shark is categorized as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. That’s the designation just before “extinct in the wild.” The species is highly threatened with extinction because of overfishing for its large fins — prized in Asian seafood markets — as well as bycatch deaths in fishing gear and habitat degradation.
Known for their distinctive heads that resemble a hammer, great hammerhead sharks can reach 20 feet in length and live up to 44 years. A long-lived species that matures late, the great hammerhead is slow to recover from overexploitation.
Great hammerhead sharks have suffered severe population declines in all oceans. They have been fished almost to extinction in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. In the Atlantic, the population has declined more than 50% in the past 70 years.