Evaluation of a Petition Requesting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to List the Smooth Hammerhead Shark (Sphryna zygaena) as a Threatened or Endangered Species Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Alexis Bethany Sturm, NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources-Endangered Species Conservation Division, Silver Spring, MD, United States; Florida Atlantic University, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Fort Pierce, FL, United States
The wildlife conservation organization, Defenders of Wildlife, petitioned NMFS to list the smooth hammerhead shark, Sphryna zygaena, as endangered or threatened throughout its range under the ESA. The petition was critically evaluated to determine if the petitioners presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the smooth hammerhead shark may warrant listing under the ESA. The petition and the cited scientific literature (as well as scientific literature readily available in NMFS files) were evaluated to determine if the smooth hammerhead shark may be threatened or endangered because of any one or a combination of the following five ESA section 4(a)(1) factors: (1) present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (2) over utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; (5) or other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence. The available scientific literature indicates that the smooth hammerhead shark populations have declined in multiple regions. Smooth hammerhead sharks may warrant listing due to ongoing threats of over utilization for commercial purposes by global fisheries that target and retain incidental catch of these species to obtain their high-value fins, possible inadequacies in global regulatory mechanisms to control this level of exploitation, and natural factors (such as inherent biological vulnerabilities) that may be exacerbating these threats. Based on these findings, the smooth hammerhead shark may warrant listing as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA and a status review of the species is currently being conducted.