A new proposal by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) could bring about protection for oceanic whitetips in US waters under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, discussions currently under way in Congress are making the future of the ESA, and all listed species, uncertain.
In September 2015, wildlife advocates Defenders of Wildlife issued a petition for the protection of the oceanic whitetip. After almost a year of gathering information about the status of the species, NOAA concluded that it is likely to become endangered throughout all, or a significant portion, of its range within the foreseeable future due to its vulnerability to being taken as by-catch in pelagic fisheries. The high value of the oceanic whitetip’s large fins in the international fin trade, despite its protected status under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was also a consideration. Accordingly, in late December 2016 NOAA released a proposal to add the oceanic whitetip to the ESA as a threatened species.