MONTEREY, Calif. (AP) - Conservation groups are asking the federal government to give protected status to great white sharks on the Pacific Coast.
Oceana, Shark Stewards and the Center for Biological Diversity said Monday they're petitioning the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the shark's U.S. West Coast population as an endangered species.
The groups say they plan to file a similar request with state authorities next week.
The conservationists say the species' West Coast population is genetically distinct from great white sharks elsewhere, and new research shows there may only be a few hundred left.
The petitioners say great whites are threatened by chemical contaminants as well as fishing nets that entangle more than 10 young sharks each year.
Endangered species status would lead to improved habitat protection and more funding for research.
Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.