NOAA Gives Great White Sharks More Protection in Gulf of the Farallones Sanctuary

October 2, 2009

New regulations to protect the great white shark are now in effect in NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a marine protected area just west of San Francisco. 

The regulations, enacted by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, prohibit activities that would attract white sharks anywhere in the Farallones sanctuary.  “Attracting” the sharks means any activity that lures or may lure a shark by using food, bait, chum, dyes, decoys (e.g., surfboards or body boards used as decoys), acoustics or any other means.

Found in North-Central California waters, white sharks feed on seals and sea lions, primarily during late summer and fall months. The sharks play an important role in the marine ecosystem by keeping fast-growing seal and sea lion populations in balance. 

The new rules strengthen the ban on hunting and fishing for white sharks by allowing them to feed undisturbed and without distraction from intrusive human activities.

Getting within 50 meters (164 feet) of any white shark within two nautical miles of any of the Farallon Islands also is prohibited. The Farallones are comprised of three island groups, part of the Farallon Archipelago, approximately 27 miles from the Golden Gate and Point Reyes.

Designated in 1981, the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 948 square nautical miles (1,255 square miles) of water off the northern and central California coast. Located just a few miles from San Francisco, the waters within the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are part of a nationally significant marine ecosystem that supports a diversity of marine habitats and species.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.