Protection of great white sharks debated; population 'dangerously low'

Published: Jan. 9, 2013 at 8:09 PM

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- California officials recommended accepting a petition by non-profit groups that great white sharks be protected as threatened or endangered under state law.

State fish and wildlife officials urged the California Fish and Game Commission to accept the petition to list the sharks under the state's Endangered Species Act, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The petitioning groups -- Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and Shark Stewards -- have argued great white populations off the West Coast are "dangerously low," pointing to previous studies estimating a total of 338 great white sharks off the coast.

State officials said more study was needed but agreed the current estimate constitutes the best available science.

Fish and wildlife officials evaluating the petition said they found it accurate for the most part and recommended the Fish and Game Commission accept it.

There was sufficient scientific information in the petition to justify a full review of whether the feared, toothy sharks should be listed as threatened with extinction, they said.

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