Maine Seafood Guide - Shark


species description | season | status | regulatory authority |
harvest method | recreational harvest | health benefits & risks | 

buying & preparing | brands | certifications | links | featured harvester

Species Description

Shortfin mako Isurus oxyrinchus
Porbeagle Lamna nasus
Thresher Alopias vulpinus
Smooth dogfish Mustelus canis canis
Spiny dogfish
Blue shark Prionace glauca
Bonnethead Sphyrna tiburo 
Smooth hammerhead Sphyrna zygaena


Some 23 species of shark inhabit the Gulf of Maine for all or part of the year. Of these, only a handful are harvested commercially and recreationally for seafood.

Some sharks caught as bycatch in other fisheries may be exported for oil, sent to fish meal processing plants, or sold for meat in the US and abroad.

Summer, when many sharks from warm, southern waters stray into the Gulf of Maine.
>back to top

Status (see the About page for definitions)
In May 2008, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission adopted an Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coastal Sharks to complement federal management actions and increase protection of pregnant females and juveniles in inshore nursery areas. The plan regulates 40 different species of coastal sharks found on the Atlantic coast. According to the latest National Marine Fisheries Service stock status report, the following species have overfishing/overfished status:

Blacknose shark is overfished, overfishing is occurring.

Dusky shark is overfished, overfishing is occuring.

Scalloped hammerhead is overfished, overfishing is occuring.

Porbeagle is overfished; overfishing is no longer occurring.

Sandbar shark is overfished; overfishing is no longer occuring.

>back to top

Regulatory Authority
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
>back to top

Harvest Method
Hook and line, also caught as bycatch in trawl and gillnet fisheries.
>back to top

Recreational Harvest
Sportfishing is allowed from a vessel with an Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) angling permit. The minimum size is 54 inches, straight fork length. For permits and current fishing regulations visit: or call 1-888-872-8862.
>back to top

Health Benefits & Risks
Shark is a good source of vitamin B12, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.

yellow warning symbolSharks are large, long-lived species at the top of the food chain, and thus contain elevated levels of mercury. There is a consumption advisory for shark due to contamination from mercury, PCBs, dioxin, and other chemicals. The State of Maine recommends that pregnant and nursing women, women who may get pregnant, nursing mothers and children under eight years old not eat any shark. Everyone else should limit shark to twice a month. 
>back to top

Buying & Preparing
Shark “steaks” sold in retail outlets may not indicate the species or whether the fish was caught by Maine fishermen or landed in Maine. Unless your market or restaurant obtains fish directly from local fishermen, it may be difficult to determine the species or origin.
>back to top

Companies, Brands, and Labels
>back to top

Certifications & Verifications
>back to top

>back to top

species description | season | status | harvest method | recreational harvest
health benefits & risks | 
buying & preparing | brands certifications | links