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Leila Monroe’s Blog

Shark Protection is Going Global

Leila Monroe

Posted July 7, 2011 in Reviving the World's Oceans

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Governments around the world are taking action to protect sharks.  This is because sharks are often worth more alive than dead.  Sharks are valuable because they keep ecosystems healthy, and shark-viewing tourism is becoming a major industry in many places.  This value is squandered when sharks are killed for short-term gain from the sale of their fins.  Although 26-73 million sharks are killed every year, just for their fins, there’s been lots of good news for sharks lately: many states and nations around the world have recently taken bold action to stop the wasteful “finning” of sharks.   

The Chilean National Congress just passed legislation that completely bans shark finning in Chilean waters.  This is a great step, because Chile had become a major exporter of shark fins that are used for soup.

A few days ago, the Bahama’s banned commercial shark finning in 243,000 square miles of water surrounding the island nation.  The Bahamas join Honduras, the Maldives and Palau in outlawing shark fishing.

To protect shark species around the world that are being threatened with extinction, it is critically important to ban the practice of finning.  But many places, like Hawaii, and now Fiji, have realized that because sharks swim into unprotected waters, and because the demand for fins that drives this practice, banning the sale and trade of fins is the best things that can be done to protect sharks. 

China Daily reported yesterday that the island nation of Fiji is considering the ban of all shark meat and products in Fiji, especially the trade of shark fins.  The state of California is working on a similar approach.

In one year, leaders of the world will go to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.  In the lead up to the meeting, NRDC is calling on nations to do what they can to stop shark finning -- whether by putting an end to finning in their waters or by stopping the trade of fins in their country.  NRDC will also call for nations to help protect the oceans by reducing plastic consumption, creating marine protected areas, and monitoring ocean acidification -- all of this will all help secure a sustainable future for people and the planet.

As many developing nations are discovering, live sharks generate significant income for sustainable tourism, and sharks keep essential ocean ecosystems healthy.  Sharks have survived on Earth since the time of dinosaurs.  Between now and the Earth Summit we hope to see even more action around the world to save sharks from going the way of dinosaurs. 

Thumbnail image for Baby Reef Shark, (c) Terry Goss 2008 Marine Photobank.JPG

Photo: (c) Terry Goss 2008/Marine Photobank

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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