The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists scalloped
hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini”) as endangered and considers a “very high risk of extinction in the wild”, yet it did not receive CITES status due to pressure from fishing nations. The U.S. has already acknowledged that the scalloped hammerhead is threatened by exploitation and that additional regulation is needed to conserve the species, as these were core contentions supporting its proposal to list the species under CITES.
This species is in drastic decline throughout its range through overfishing and from the shark fin trade. These schooling sharks are highly vulnerable to targeted fisheries. Like most sharks, scalloped hammerheads play an important role in the health and balance of oceanic ecosystems.
These ecosystems, including already threatened coral reefs, could seriously suffer from the removal of a top predator.
We join WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals request that NMFS list the species (1) throughout its entire range or, alternatively (2) as five distinct population segments (DPS’s) under the ESA representing each subpopulation of the species. The five subpopulations, any of which might qualify for listing as a DPS, include the Eastern Central and Southeast Pacific, the Eastern Central Atlantic, the Northwest and Western Central Atlantic, the Southwest Atlantic, and the Western Indian Ocean.
We also request designation of critical habitat in U.S. waters for this species along with final ESA listing. Critical habitat should protect the areas most important to the scalloped hammerhead’s survival, such as breeding grounds or coastal areas. Areas should include waters around the Hawaiian Islands, Southern California, and the coastal region between South Carolina and central Florida, which is believed to be an important nursery area in the Western Atlantic.
Besides protecting endangered species, a main goal of the ESA is ecosystem stability and biodiversity. Protecting these sharks will satisfy both goals and ensure the survival of this important apex predator.
We urge you to list the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini) under the endangered species act either worldwide or as one or more Distinct Population Segments.