LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — The California Department of Fish and Game believes great white sharks should be listed as threatened or endangered species under the state's Endangered Species Act.
State officials, who said there is "sufficient scientific information" that the white shark population is low, have encouraged the Fish and Game Commission to accept a petition on the issue brought by nonprofit groups.
Marine biologist Nicole Leier, who works at the shark exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, said the sharks should be protected.
"It's extremely important to our ocean's ecosystems. We have to make sure we conserve their population for a very long time," she said.
Leier continued, "Their habitat is being destroyed. They're being caught for shark finning operations and their food source is being lost. If we get rid of sharks from our oceans, our oceans are not going to be able to survive."
The Fish and Game Commission meets in February in Sacramento.
If the petition is accepted, it would take a year for the protections to be enforced.
Some critics said the white sharks are more of a threat to humans.
In 2010, 19-year-old Lucas Ransom, a UC Santa Barbara chemical engineering student, was killed by a great white while he was boogie-boarding with friends at Surf Beach outside of Vandenberg Air Force Base.
"It was just like, a ninja came through and took him under water kinda," said the victim's best friend, Matthew Garcia.
Ransom's mother said, "His friends were hysterical. At that point, I knew that God had called him home."
A 39-year-old surfer was also killed along the same stretch of waters in Oct. 2012.
Experts said many of the attacks are due to mistaken identity, where humans look like prey.
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