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New petition aims to protect dwindling Great Hammerhead Shark population from extinction

The Center for Biological Diversity is looking to add protections amid a number of factors contributing to the sharks population decline.

SAN DIEGO, California — A new petition launched by The Center for Biological Diversity aims to protect the Great Hammerhead Shark from extinction by adding protections under the Endangered Species Act.

The shark is one of many species that have seen dwindling populations following an uptick in overfishing. In combination with climate change, bycatch, pollution, and a lack of legal protection, the shark population has dropped by more than 80% over the last 70 years.

“Historically the primary driver towards extinction for the Great Hammerhead Shark has been over exploitation,” said Kristen Carden, a Senior Scientist for the Oceans program at The Center for Biological Diversity. “So, the shark species is targeted for its fins. Because of the size of the fins, they’re very large, they have something called a high needle count which makes them very prized for shark fin soup.”

Adding the Great Hammerhead to the list would allow for protection in U.S. waters and also offer a chance for improvements in international waters and other countries, such as monetary help. The non-profit hopes that if the Great Hammerhead is added to the list, it will be enough to halt the decline of the population, and give it an opportunity to recover.

“Protection under the Endangered Species Act, it also has some international benefits,” Carden added. “Listing can provide financial support, law enforcement support, and institutional support for other countries where the great hammerhead roams that will allow it to be protected there as well.”

Several other non-profits have categorized the shark as endangered or critically endangered, but the petition to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and NOAA will allow for protections to be extended. Government agencies now have the opportunity to step in, as urged in the petition — giving the sharks a better chance at survival. 

“Another way of looking at it is we are privileged to live on a planet that has this very rich biodiversity,” said Carden. “If we lose it, we’re losing something bigger. We’re losing something that’s part of the magic of the world that we live in.”

You can learn more about the non-profit and the petition they’ve sent by heading to their website. The Center for Biological Diversity adds that the great hammerhead has seen population decline in every ocean around the world. They say the shark has been fished to near extinction in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. 

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