William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review


Kelsey Peden


Shark and ray populations are crucial to a healthy oceanic ecosystem, but regulation of harm is difficult to manage for these highly migratory species. The massive decline of shark and ray populations has triggered an international response, including collaborative protections against the overharvest and sale of endangered groups. However, recent studies show that protections must extend past direct harvest because an estimated thirty to fifty percent of population kills occur through “accidental by-catch” in the fishing process. The United States has attempted to fill some of the missing protections for sharks in national waters, as well as to implement bans against the import of endangered shark and ray species. While U.S. national trade laws put pressure on foreign nations to end the over harvest of shark and ray species, they do not solve the issues of by-catch or traceability that haunt the supply chain. This Article examines international regulations protecting shark populations as well as U.S. import laws on highly migratory animals, ultimately theorizing that trade regulations promoting sustainably harvested sea food are the most promising path to protect shark and ray species.