A Study on the Effectiveness of Different Conservation Strategies on the Leopard Shark Population


by : 
Nicholas I.


Since the 1970s, the sharp increase in fishing pressure on the shark populations of California has been the subject of much concern. For leopard sharks, one of the most common sharks in San Francisco Bay, protective measures might’ve been too little too late, as the species is vulnerable to outside pressures. In the three years between 1980 and 1983, reported commercial landings of leopard sharks increased from 40,085 lbs to 101,309 lbs, predominantly in San Francisco Bay. In response to the expansion of leopard shark fisheries, the 1992 and 1993 California regulations put in place a daily possession limit of up to three sharks at or over 36 inches; however, many researchers have calculated that this is not enough for a positive increase in population growth. A species as vulnerable to exploitation and extinction as the leopard shark deserves an examination and comparison of multiple different conservation measures to most effectively provide for a stable and expanding population, a task this research will attempt to complete through the use of a Leslie Matrix model to empirically estimate the theoretical population growth if each method was used, allowing for a direct comparison and a solution to the question of how to best protect this species.