26 Sep 2009

Palau's EEZ becomes shark sanctuary

10:11 am on 26 September 2009

Palau has created the world's first shark sanctuary.

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, the Palau President Johnson Toribiong declared his country's entire Exclusive Economic Zone, an area of 629,thousand square kilometers, roughly the size of France as a shark sanctuary.

The sanctuary will ban all commercial shark fishing within Palau's waters.

In addition, the President called for a global ban on shark finning and says he will work with the international community to protect sharks threatened by international trade and to set science-based limits on the number of sharks that can be caught on the high seas.

President Toribiong says healthy shark populations are critical to both the health of the world's oceans and the health of Palau's economy.

He says the rampant, illegal and widescale removal of sharks from Palau's waters deprives the ecosystem of its apex predators and his country's tourism of one of its main attractions.

He says reckless overfishing is depriving the people of the Pacific of their livelihoods, food and will be the ruin of the region's economic well-being.