It’s not every day that you hear about the Marshall Islands. Scattered across a swath of the Pacific Ocean, these islands are home to only about 68,000 people. But as of this week, the waters around these islands may become home to a whole lot more sharks.
That’s because the government has decided to make all of its waters—more than 750,000 square miles, or about the size of Mexico—a shark sanctuary. This move will almost double the area in which sharks are protected globally.
Within the Marshall Islands, it will now be illegal to commercially fish sharks, sell any shark products, and use wire leaders (a type of fishing gear often responsible for shark deaths). In addition, all sharks caught accidentally must be released, and fishing boats will be required to bring all their catch directly to port for inspection—an important step in combating seafood fraud. Fines for having shark products will run the equivalent of $25,000 to $200,000.
Today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from Robin Culler, teacher of the 2010 Junior Ocean Heroes, the Shark Finatics.
What a year this has been for the Shark Finatics! We are still basking in the glory of being named Junior Ocean Heroes and each week many more amazing things come our way.
This past Saturday, I was privileged to be invited to a dinner honoring Palau's President Johnson Toribiong. The prestigious Ocean Heritage Award was presented to the President by the Shark Research Institute in recognition of Palau's Shark Sanctuary.
A year ago, Palau, one of the world's smallest nations, created the first ever shark sanctuary. Commercial fishing of sharks is banned in Palau's territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone, covering 240,000 square miles. More than 130 species of sharks and stingrays, which are considered either endangered or vulnerable, find safe haven in this sanctuary.