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Marshall Islands Creates World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary

A great white shark. © Oceana/ David P. Stephens

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.


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