Collapse and conservation of shark populations in the Northwest Atlantic

Science. 2003 Jan 17;299(5605):389-92. doi: 10.1126/science.1079777.


Overexploitation threatens the future of many large vertebrates. In the ocean, tunas and sea turtles are current conservation concerns because of this intense pressure. The status of most shark species, in contrast, remains uncertain. Using the largest data set in the Northwest Atlantic, we show rapid large declines in large coastal and oceanic shark populations. Scalloped hammerhead, white, and thresher sharks are each estimated to have declined by over 75% in the past 15 years. Closed-area models highlight priority areas for shark conservation, and the need to consider effort reallocation and site selection if marine reserves are to benefit multiple threatened species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Fishes
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Models, Statistical
  • Population Density
  • Sharks*