A federal appeals court is weighing whether the Fish and Wildlife Service needs to change its current rules to allow Texas to import new sharks in an effort to protect the state’s shark populations.
In a ruling released Monday, U.S. District Judge Roger L. Wilkins wrote that the current rule violates the Fourth Amendment because the agency lacks “sufficient information about the shark’s health or habitat.”
The government has asked the appeals court to clarify that it’s “not necessary to know whether the shark is healthy to warrant importing it.”
Wilkins’ ruling follows a separate court decision from the same day, one that found that the Fish & Wildlife Service’s current rules are “not sufficiently clear” about whether to allow imports of the shark species.
Wilkins said the agency’s rule is “inconsistent with the longstanding statutory and regulatory guidance that has existed since the enactment of the Endangered Species Act and that the court believes should continue to govern the importation of imported sharks.”
The decision is unlikely to change much in the federal appeals courts.
The appeals court did not rule on whether the agency has the authority to issue permits for the import of sharks, but it could overturn Wilkins’ decision if he finds it to be erroneous.
The agency issued permits for imports of more than 100 sharks in 2011 and 2012, according to court documents.
The latest permits were issued to Texas in September 2017 and are for three species: white sharks, red snapper and goldfin sharks.
Wilkin also said that while the agency needs more information to make its decision, the agency should not allow a permit for a shark with a record of “serious injury” because of an attack that was not fatal.
Wilkes said the Fish&wgo has “exceeded the bounds of its authority and should not be allowed to do so,” the Associated Press reported.
The federal appeals Court in Corpus Christi said the “fish and wildlife service has no power to permit imports, and that no one has any authority to take any of the fish or wildlife products out of Texas.”