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For Release: Friday, June 30, 2023

DEC Issues Guidance to Reduce the Risk of Negative Interactions with Sharks

Seasonal Shark Activity Increases in New York's Marine Waters During Summer Months

Follow Safety Guidance to be 'Shark Smart' When Visiting Ocean Beaches

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today issued guidance to promote public safety at ocean beaches and help minimize the risk of negative interactions between people and sharks. The annual summer migration of sharks into New York's coastal waters is underway and sightings of shark activity in the nearshore ocean waters is expected to increase during the summer months, June through September. DEC encourages New Yorkers to be aware of their surroundings in the water and the potential for shark-human interactions and follow DEC guidelines to minimize the risk of negative interactions.

"New York State has world-class ocean beaches that are desirable destinations to many visitors during the summer months. It's also a wild and natural marine ecosystem that supports a wide diversity of marine life, including sharks," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Human-shark interactions are rare events in New York. However, DEC encourages all beachgoers to respect these animals and follow shark safety guidance to minimize their risk of negative interactions with sharks."

To reduce and minimize potential interactions with sharks, New Yorkers are encouraged to take the following steps:

  • Avoid areas with seals;
  • Avoid areas with schools of fish, splashing fish, or diving seabirds;
  • Avoid swimming at dusk, night, and dawn;
  • Avoid murky water;
  • Swim, paddle, and surf in groups;
  • Stay close to shore, where feet can touch the bottom; and
  • Always follow the instructions of lifeguards and park staff.

Humans assume risk whenever they enter any wild environment, whether on land or in the water. Although it is impossible to eliminate risk altogether, ocean users can modify their behavior to minimize potential interactions with sharks and reduce overall risk. When in the ocean, follow DEC's shark safety guidelines to minimize the potential for negative interactions with sharks.

Sharks have existed in New York's marine waters for millions of years. Today there are more than 13 shark species that migrate through New York's marine waters each year. Each shark species has unique habitat and food preferences and plays an important role in maintaining a healthy and balanced marine ecosystem. Sharks can prevent other species from monopolizing limited resources and degrading the marine environment. The presence of sharks in New York's marine waters is a positive sign of a healthy marine ecosystem. Learn more about sharks in New York by visiting DEC's website.

Governor Kathy Hochul also recently announced (leaves DEC website) enhanced shark monitoring and additional surveillance capabilities implemented this summer to protect visitors from negative shark interactions.

Proposed New Fishing Regulations to Protect Sharks and Improve Angler Safety

DEC recently proposed changes to recreational fishing regulations to improve the management and protection of sharks by establishing gear restrictions for recreational shore anglers and shark handling and release requirements for all anglers. 

Recreational shore anglers are increasingly targeting prohibited shark species such as sandbar, dusky, and sand tiger sharks, which are illegal to pursue, capture, or kill. The life histories of these shark species make them vulnerable to fishing activities and require long-term rebuilding strategies in order to restore healthy populations. The proposed regulations seek to further protect these prohibited shark species in New York State from being illegally targeted and irresponsibly handled.

The proposed regulation is available for public comment (PDF) until Aug. 7, 2023. DEC will hold a virtual public hearing to accept public comment on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at 6 p.m. Information on how to submit written comments or participate in the hearing can be found at DEC's website.

'Be Shark Smart!' (PDF) Flyer is available to download and share at DEC's website.

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  • NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources
    123 Kings Park Blvd. (Nissequogue River State Park)
    Kings Park, NY 11754
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