New York governor in hot water over shark photos

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New York Governor Criticized for Catching Shark

New York governor Andrew Cuomo and his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, are in hot water over their catch of a thresher shark during a fishing expedition over the weekend.

The 154.5-pound shark was caught by the Cuomos and two friends during a fishing trip on Long Island and the backlash was prompted when the governor and, later, his chief-of-staff, posted photos of the catch on Twitter.

The response online was swift, with many replying directly to the governor's original photos.

According to international nongovernmental conservation organization International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the three species of thresher shark are currently listed as "vulnerable."

The shark is not currently listed as either "threatened" or "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act. Nor is it listed as "endangered," "threatened," or of "special concern" by the state of New York.

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Service Employees International Union (SEIU) president Mary Kay Henry, left, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo confer during a labor rally where he announced a plan to get a minimum $15 an hour wage hike for fast-food workers, Thursday, May 7, 2015, in New York. Cuomo is proposing a plan to get a minimum wage hike for fast-food workers that doesn't require legislative approval. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a labor rally, announcing a plan to get a minimum $15 an hour wage hike for fast-food workers, Thursday, May 7, 2015, in New York. Cuomo is proposing a plan to get a minimum wage hike that doesn't require legislative approval. Cuomo said he will direct the state labor commissioner to examine the minimum wage in the fast-food industry. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his partner Sandra Lee depart the wake for slain New York Police Department officer Wenjian Liu in the Brooklyn borough of New York January 3, 2015. Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, were shot to death on December 20 as they sat in their squad car in Brooklyn. Their killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who killed himself soon after, had said he was seeking to avenge the deaths this summer of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW)
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The state of New York allows for the catching of the common thresher shark as long as the length from tip of its snout to its tail fork is at least 54 inches. However, fishing of the bigeye thresher is prohibited by state law.

A Cuomo rep told the New York Post, "This is an edible game fish that is indigenous to New York waters and catching them is allowable under both state and federal regulations."

These facts, though, hardly helped Cuomo with public perception.

Speaking to the Guardian, the UN's patron of the oceans, Lewis Pugh said:

"The environment is the primary issue on the global agenda, so it is extraordinary that a senior politician could be so ignorant about it... Apex predators such as sharks are crucial for the ocean ecosystems. For a public figure to kill such an animal and then boast about it on social media is dangerously irresponsible. This shows a clear lack of judgment and calls to question his capability as a public leader."

Cuomo gained notice in 2013 when he signed a bill that banned the sale and trade of shark fins, often used in shark fin soup.

As for the shark's ultimate fate with the Cuomos, Gothamist points to Chris Cuomo's Instagram photo of the shark, which says, "Grilled it simply with a little Mediterranean rub. Tasty."

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