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Protect Critically Endangered Tope Sharks

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Support the National Marine Fisheries Service's decision to classify the tope shark as endangered and protect its critical marine habitat!


Tope sharks are found in temperate, shallow waters along coastlines around the world, from North America to Australia to the Mediterranean, but the entire West Coast of the United States is prime tope shark territory, and those sharks are in trouble1.

Also known as the “soupfin” shark, tope shark populations have declined by 88% globally in the past 80 years because of the fishing industry. Many tope sharks have become bycatch or entangled in gillnets2.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies the tope shark as critically endangered. The species is highly threatened with extinction because of commercial overfishing for liver oil, meat and fins, as well as bycatch and habitat degradation3.

There has not been a U.S. stock assessment or fishery management plan developed for tope sharks, so their status in the United States is largely unknown4.

Adult tope sharks reach up to 6 and a half feet long and nearly 100 pounds. Tope sharks are late to mature at about 12.5 years, and can live up to 60 years in the wild5.

The National Marine Fisheries Service announced in 2022 that the tope shark may warrant protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and must decide whether to list the species by February 20236.

Sign the petition and support the decision of the National Marine Fisheries Service to classify the tope shark as endangered and designate critical habitat essential to the survival and recovery of this important native species.

More on this issue:

  1. Zubaria, sharksinfo.com, "Tope Shark – School Shark | Sharks Info."
  2. Center for Biological Diversity (28 April 2022), "Tope Sharks Take Step Toward Endangered Species Protection."
  3. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (14 February 2020), "Tope."
  4. NOAA Fisheries (18 October 2022), "Fishery Stock Status Updates."
  5. SharkSider (2022), "Tope Shark."
  6. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The Federal Register (28 April 2022), "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Tope Shark as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act."
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The Petition:

To the Secretary of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,

I commend and support your decision to list the tope shark (Galeorhinus galeus) as an endangered or threatened species and to designate critical habitat concurrent with the listing, and look forward to the NMFS commencing a status review to extend critical protections to this marine species.

The species is highly threatened with extinction because of commercial overfishing for liver oil, meat and fins, as well as bycatch and habitat degradation

The threats to the tope shark are serious, and worse, there has not been a U.S. stock assessment or fishery management plan developed for tope sharks, so their status in the United States is largely unknown.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature already classifies the tope shark as critically endangered. The NMFS classification will further protect this threatened species and, with continued conservation work, save the tope shark from extinction.

Thank you,

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Signatures: