“The world must rise with us to protect our oceans and our environment,” said Toribiong, the President of Palau and creator of the first shark sanctuary in the world “That is the moral obligation of this generation for the benefit of the next.”
As I’m sure you have all heard by now, shark finning has been an increasingly profitable trend worldwide, leaving the mutilated bodies of sharks to die a slow death so their fins can be used to thicken a soup. Thanks to green groups and global advocacy for the shark, the shark fin trade industry has shown a 50% decrease from last years sales! At the same time Marine Protected Areas have been shown to increase shark populations, allowing the sharks a sanctuary from shark fishermen and finning. Such sanctuaries are showing up around the globe, in Palau, Maldives, Honduras, Bahamas, Marshall Islands and Tokelau.
Sharks have become much more valuable alive than dead. Did you know shark sanctuaries not only help with shark populations and a healthy marine ecosystem, but they help to generate revenue for the countries they are found in. A study by the Australian Institute for Marine Science and the University of Western Australia found that shark tourism was worth $18 million annually to Palau! A single shark can contribute almost $2 million for the Pacific island nation over its lifetime through the growing eco-tourism industry and visitors desire to experience these “fierce predators” first hand. This study has lead many nations to ditch the practice of shark finning, and switch to creating shark sanctuaries.
Recently, French Polynesia and the Cook Islands have joined the growing trend and have each created a shark sanctuary! Not only have they each created a shark sanctuary, but they have designated the largest area, 2.5 million square miles, as two adjacent shark sanctuaries! This brings the area set aside for sharks to more than 4.4 million square miles worldwide!
The Pew Environment Group’s global shark conservation program director, Jill Hepp said . . . “In just a few short years, there has been a fundamental shift in the way that sharks are perceived,” [concern over the effects of losing sharks] “is now far more frightening than their misguided reputation. With shark fishing now legally prohibited, we are hopeful that sharks now have the protections they need to recover in the same way that wolves and bears have returned in national parks on land.”
Overall, things seem to be looking up for the sharks, and it seems the education and conservation efforts are more than worth their work!
Speak UP For Sharks!
♦ Alarmingly, the shark fin trade is alive and well in Texas and the Gulf of Mexico! Sign the petition and let Texas governor Rick Perry and the Texas State Legislature know how you feel. ♦