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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 28 Sharks SSR 2015

Marine Fisheries

Shark

Sharks — 2015

Stock Status – Concern– Stock status is assessed by species complex for most coastal shark species and by species where data are adequate for an individual assessment. The current status is concern due to the overfished, overfishing or unknown status of sandbar, dusky, blacknose, blacktip, porbeagle and bonnethead sharks. In 2015, a benchmark assessment of Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico smoothhound shark (smooth dogfish) stocks was conducted through the Southeast Data Assessment Review (SEDAR). Results indicated that both stocks were not overfished and not experiencing overfishing. SEDAR 34 assessed Atlantic sharpnose and bonnethead sharks in 2013. The assessment indicated that neither Atlantic sharpnose nor bonnethead sharks are overfished or undergoing overfishing. However, due to concerns of a split bonnethead stock between the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, the bonnethead results were deemed not suitable for management. A 2011 benchmark assessment (SEDAR 21) of dusky, Sandbar, and blacknose sharks indicated that both sandbar and dusky sharks continue to be overfished with overfishing occurring for dusky sharks. Blacknose sharks are overfished with overfishing occurring.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2005-2014 671,058 lbs./$337,840

2014 Commercial Landings and Value 977,594 lbs./$467,564 (quota managed)

Large Coastal Average Recreational Landings 2005-2014 – 11,404 lbs., 2014 – 4,735 lbs.

Small Coastal Average Recreational Landings 2004-2015 – 20,049 lbs., 2014 – 15,479 lbs.

Smoothhound shark (smooth dogfish) Average Recreational Landings 2005-2014 – 12,452 lbs., 2014 – 0 lbs.

Pelagic Average Recreational Landings 2005-2014 – 19,109 lbs., 2014 – 3,558 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (150 lbs./80 in.) 2005-2014 41, 2014 79/64 released 

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) In North Carolina, coastal sharks are included in an Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Coastal Sharks (FMP) implemented in August 2008 by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to compliment federal management actions. The FMP regulates 40 different species of coastal sharks found on the Atlantic coast. Coastal sharks are managed under this plan as six different species complexes: prohibited, research, small coastal, non-sandbar large coastal, pelagic and smoothhound shark (smooth dogfish). The spiny dogfish and coastal shark management board (Board) does not set quotas and follows NOAA fisheries openings and closures for small coastal sharks, non-sandbar large coastal shark and pelagic sharks. Addendum I to the FMP was approved in 2009 allowing limited smoothhound shark (smooth dogfish) processing at sea (removal of fins from the carcass) from March through June as long as the total wet weight of fins found on board the vessel does not exceed 5% of the total dressed weight of the smoothhound shark (smooth dogfish) carcasses. Addendum I also removed smoothhound shark (smooth dogfish) recreational possession limits and removed gillnet check requirements for smoothhound shark (smooth dogfish) fishermen. Addendum II and Addendum III effective in 2013 addressed changes in the federal management of coastal sharks. Addendum II allocated state-shares of the smoothhound coastwide quota, modified the FMP to allow year round smoothhound shark (smooth dogfish) processing at sea and modified the maximum fin-to-carcass ratio from 5% to 12% of the total dressed weight of the smoothhound shark (smooth dogfish) carcasses, consistent with the Shark Conservation Act of 2010. Addendum III created two new species groups (‘Hammerhead’ and ‘Blacknose’) and increased the recreational size limit for hammerheads. Effective in 2012, NOAA Fisheries changed the name of smooth dogfish to smoothhound shark to minimize confusion with spiny dogfish regulations.

Research and Data Needs Update stock assessments for sandbar and dusky shark; continue to acquire better species-specific landings information on number of species, by weight, from dealers; better identify and quantify the use of essential fish habitat and nursery areas for shark species found along the Atlantic Coast of the U.S.; continue to expand long term shark monitoring programs to assess population status, and trends in demographic parameters; identify and evaluate the effects of shark bycatch in other fisheries; initiate or expand species identification of bycatch in shrimp trawls to allow for better bycatch estimates particularly of blacknose sharks and other shark species.

2014 Regulations –Refer to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) shark proclamation for commercial and recreational regulations. Commercial and recreational regulations in state waters are equivalent to regulations established by NOAA Fisheries in federal waters. Federal regulations have been in place since 1993, and a closure to commercial harvest in state waters occurred from 1997 to 2006.

Harvest Season Refer to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) shark proclamation for commercial harvest seasons. Commercial open seasons in state waters are equivalent to open seasons established by NOAA Fisheries in federal waters and are dependent upon quotas.

Size and Age at Maturity Variable, depending upon species

Historical and Current Maximum Age – Variable, depending upon species

Juvenile Abundance Index Not Available, except for a few species in certain areas of the western Atlantic.

Habits and Habitats – Sharks belong to the class Chondrichtyes (cartilaginous fish) that also includes rays, skates, and deepwater chimaeras (ratfishes). Relative to other marine fish, sharks have a very low reproductive potential. The low reproductive rate is due to sharks slow growth, late sexual maturity, one to two year reproductive cycles, a small number of young per brood, and specific requirements for nursery areas.

In 2014, shortfin mako, Atlantic sharpnose, and blacktip sharks were the top three commercially harvested shark species under quota management in North Carolina.

The shortfin mako shark is found offshore in tropical and temperate waters throughout the world. It is an entirely pelagic, solitary species, averaging 10 feet in length and 135 to 300 pounds. Shortfin makos are usually bycatch in tuna and billfish commercial longline fisheries and also an important species in the recreational hook and line fishery. The reproductive cycle of the shortfin mako is mostly unknown but it is estimated that there is a 15 to 18 month gestation period, litter size from 4 to 5 pups, 3 year reproductive cycle and a 20-year life span. The diet of the shortfin mako consists of mackerels, bonitos, bluefish, swordfish and other fishes. Commercially caught shortfin mako sharks are managed under the pelagic other than porbeagle or blue shark species group quota.

The Atlantic sharpnose shark inhabits nearly the entire Northeastern coast of North America. It is a year-round resident in the South Atlantic. In North Carolina, the Atlantic sharpnose shark is found year round in continental shelf waters and near the beaches. It aggregates in large schools uniformly grouped by size and sex. Usually, four to seven pups are born in the estuaries during early June and are 9 to 14 inches in length. It feeds on shrimp, mollusks, and small fishes.

Blacktip sharks in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico range from New England to Mexico but are commonly found between North Carolina and Texas, especially in the spring and summer. They inhabit the shallow coastal waters, estuaries and offshore waters along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Blacktip sharks are a large coastal shark that is targeted in both commercial and recreational fisheries. Blacktip sharks are stout-bodied with a moderately long and pointed snout. They lack an interdorsal ridge; have black tipped pectoral and pelvic fins and an unmarked anal fin. The maximum age is thought to be 12 years. Age at maturity is 4-5 for males, and 6-7 for females. Average adult size is 4.9 feet weighing about 40 lbs. Blacktip sharks primarily feed on small schooling fishes and other boney fishes. They give birth in the late spring to live, free-swimming young. Brood size ranges from one to ten pups. Females give birth in inshore estuarine nursery grounds where the young remain for the first years of their lives.

For more information, contact Holly White at Holly.White@ncdenr.gov or 252-473-5734

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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