Atlantic Shortfin Mako Shark
NMFS Encourages the Live Release of Shortfin Mako Sharks
- What's the Problem
- Live Release Map
- What's Legal
- Learn More
- Spread the Word
If You Catch ’em Alive, Let ’em Live
Having healthy populations of shortfin mako and other sharks in the North Atlantic Ocean is important to recreational and commercial fishermen, and to maintain a balanced ocean ecosystem. Keeping shark populations healthy is the responsibility of everyone out on the water that catches shortfin mako or other sharks. If you catch a shortfin mako shark or any other shark that is in good condition, release it alive to reduce the number of sharks that are removed from the population. By doing this, you can help maintain healthy shark populations for future generations.
When releasing any shark, try to follow these steps to maximize their chance of survival and minimize injury if you can safely do so:
- Use non-stainless steel circle hooks.
- Do not remove the shark from the water.
- Do not gaff the shark.
- Remove the hook from the shark using a de-hooking device, if you can do it safely.
- If you cannot remove the hook, cut the line as close to the hook as you can while being safe.
- If you can, tag them (learn how)
And remember, as always when dealing with sharks, safety first!
Download the NMFS Careful Catch brochure for more safe handling and release information.
Strong recreational and commercial fisheries rely on thriving fish populations. If shortfin mako sharks become overfished, regulations, such as those in place for other species of sharks, may be necessary to limit the commercial and recreational fishing in order for the population to recover. Releasing a shortfin mako today may help keep the population and fishery strong for years to come.
Put your mako on the map!
Release a shortfin mako.
Submit shortfin mako shark catch and release information and become a part of our interactive web map.
Remember: A legal shark is not necessarily
a mature shark
Shortfin mako sharks are slow growing, long-lived sharks, and removing immature individuals may have detrimental effects on the overall population level. Both male and female shortfin mako sharks reach sexual maturity at sizes much larger than the current recreational minimum size of 54 inches fork length. There is no size limit on shortfin mako sharks in the commercial fishery. But keep in mind that both male and female shortfin mako sharks become mature at lengths greater than the recreational minimum size (54 inches fork length).
Mature Males: 73 inches FL; 153 pounds whole weight;
8 years old
Mature Females: 108 inches FL; 525 pounds whole weight; 18 years old
Currently, the North Atlantic stock is healthy according to the 2012 ICCAT stock assessment (click here for more stock assessment info). You can help maintain this healthy population by releasing live immature shortfin mako sharks and only keeping mature individuals who have already had the chance to reproduce.
Do your part to help the shortfin mako shark population by releasing immature sharks that are caught alive and are in good condition. To calculate shortfin mako shark length / weight conversions, please visit the Northeast Fishery Science Center website at: http://na.nefsc.noaa.gov/sharks/calc.html
Click the links below to learn more about the North Atlantic population of shortfin mako sharks
Become seafood savvy and learn more about Atlantic shortfin mako shark by going to the NOAA FishWatch webpage
Spread the Word
Spread the word about releasing shortfin mako sharks and Atlantic HMS regulations by downloading and distributing HMS Outreach Materials. You can also request these outreach materials by calling the HMS Management Division at 301-713-2347 or by emailing a request to email@example.com
- Shortfin Mako Information Card
- Shortfin Mako Post Card
- Careful Catch and Release Brochure
- Commercial and Recreational HMS Compliance Guides
- Recreational Shark Placard
- NOAA Fisheries Cooperative Shark Tagging Program Brochure
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I required to release shortfin mako sharks?
Recreational and commercial fishermen may retain shortfin mako sharks specified by the recreational size and bag, and commercial bag limits (see below). However, we encourage, through the NMFS Shortfin Mako Live Release Website, commercial and recreational fishermen to release shortfin mako sharks that come to the vessel alive in order to decrease fishing mortality and maintain the healthy shortfin mako shark population. Similarly, we encourage recreational fishermen to practice the live release of sharks and releasing sharks where the angler may not be sure of the species identification. Releasing sharks helps maintain or rebuild shark populations and also ensures that you do not land a prohibited species.
What are the recreational size and bag limits for shortfin mako sharks?
Vessels that hold an HMS Angling or Charter/Headboat permit may recreationally retain 1 shark greater than 54 inches fork length per trip. This shark could be a shortfin mako shark or other species. Although anglers can legally retain a 54 inch shortfin mako shark, both male and female shortfin mako sharks reach sexual maturity at sizes larger than 54 inches fork length (73 and 108 in fork length, respectively). This is also true of other sharks such as hammerhead, porbeagle, thresher, and blue sharks. Therefore, keeping a shortfin mako shark that is smaller than its size-at-maturity means that it most likely didn't get a chance to reproduce and contribute to the shortfin mako shark population. Find out more information under the What's Legal tab.
What are the commercial size and bag limits for shortfin mako sharks?
There is no shortfin mako shark trip limit for commercial vessels that hold a Federal Atlantic Directed shark limited access permit. Commercial vessels that hold a Federal Atlantic Incidental shark limited access permit can keep up to a total of 16 pelagic or small coastal sharks (all species combined), meaning they could retain a maximum of 16 shortfin mako sharks if no other pelagic or small coastal sharks were retained. There is no commercial minimum size limit for shortfin mako sharks. Find out more about shortfin mako sizes under the What's Legal tab.
How can I identify a shortfin mako shark?
The shortfin mako shark has a conical pointed snout, and long smooth-edged teeth. Its coloration is deep blue above, soft metallic blue on the sides, and white along the underside of the snout, mouth, and body. It has one caudal keel, and the first dorsal fin originates behind the trailing edge of the pectoral fins. Shortfin mako sharks in the Atlantic could be confused with other pelagic sharks like the longfin mako and porbeagle or with the white shark. The following are some key characteristis that will help you tell the difference between some sharks that shortfin makos could be confused with.
White: White sharks have distinctive large triangular serrated teeth. Their snout is also more blunt than a shortfin mako's. White sharks are a prohibited species and cannot be retained legally.
Porbeagle: Porbeagle sharks have a secondary caudal keel, and have teeth with lateral cusplets, while shortfin makos only have one caudal keel and no lateral cusplets. They also have a distinct white marking on the rear edge of the first dorsal fin.
Longfin mako: Longfin mako sharks are very similar to shortfin makos but, as their name suggests, they have much longer pectoral fins. They also have larger eyes than shortfin makos, and the area on their snout is darker (dusky or bluish-black compared to white) than the same area on shortfin makos. Longfin mako sharks are a prohibited species and cannot be retained legally.
For more help with shark identification, download the Recreational Atlantic HMS Shark ID Placard, or contact the Atlantic HMS Management Division at 301-427-8503 to request a waterproof hard copy of the placard.