World’s first “shark sanctuary”

Palau to create the world’s first “shark sanctuary”, banning all commercial shark fishing in its waters.

We couldn’t agree more and applaud President Toribiong’s efforts to protect the remaining sharks in our ocean. Hopefully other nations will follow suit. In 2006, French Polynesia decreed shark fishing, and therefore shark finning, illegal in its waters for all sharks except the mako shark, see page 9 of Oceana’s Report: Fishy Business [2 MB PDF]). Making shark fishing/finning illegal is the first great step. Enforcement of that law is the next, and is often where conservation efforts fail. We hope this is not the case for either Palau or French Polynesia or those that follow (come on U.S.A.).

The President of the tiny Pacific republic, Johnson Toribiong, announced the sanctuary during Friday’s session of the UN General Assembly.

With half of the world’s oceanic sharks at risk of extinction, conservationists regard the move as “game-changing”.

It will protect about 600,000 sq km (230,000 sq miles) of ocean, an area about the size of France.

President Toribiong also called for a global ban on shark-finning, the practice of removing the fins at sea.

Fins are a lucrative commodity on the international market where they are bought for use in shark fin soup.

As many as 100 million sharks are killed each year around the world.

“These creatures are being slaughtered and are perhaps at the brink of extinction unless we take positive action to protect them,” said President Toribiong.

“Their physical beauty and strength, in my opinion, reflects the health of the oceans; they stand out,” he told BBC News from UN headquarters in New York.

The president also called for an end to bottom-trawling, a fishing method that can destroy valuable seafloor ecosystems such as coral reefs.

“The need to protect the sharks outweighs the need to enjoy a bowl of soup”

Read on: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8272508.stm

Join us and send a thank you to Johnson Toribiong, President of Palau for his efforts at the Shark Savers website: http://www.sharksavers.org