Home   :    Contact   :    Donations
The Shark and Coral Conservation Trust
About SCCT   :       Donations   :       The Facts   :       D.E.E.P   :       News   :       Articles   :       Videos   :       What You Can Do

articles


Palau Pioneers Shark Sanctuary
25/09/09
source : Richard Black _ Environment Correspondent BBC  BBC News Website - Science and Nature


Palau pioneers 'shark sanctuary'
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website



Hammerheads are among hundreds of species found in Palau's waters


Palau is to create the world's first "shark sanctuary", banning all commercial shark fishing in its waters.

The President of the tiny Pacific republic, Johnson Toribiong, will announce the ban during Friday's session of the UN General Assembly.

With half of the world's oceanic sharks at risk of extinction, conservationists regard the move as "game-changing".

It will protect about 600,000 sq km (230,000 sq miles) of ocean, an area about the size of France.

President Toribiong will also call for a global ban on shark-finning, the practice of removing the fins at sea.

The need to protect the sharks outweighs the need to enjoy a bowl of soup

President Johnson Toribiong
Fins are a lucrative commodity on the international market where they are bought for use in shark fin soup.

As many as 100 million sharks are killed each year around the world.

"These creatures are being slaughtered and are perhaps at the brink of extinction unless we take positive action to protect them," said President Toribiong.

"Their physical beauty and strength, in my opinion, reflects the health of the oceans; they stand out," he told BBC News from UN headquarters in New York.

Local benefits

A number of developed nations have implemented catch limits and restrictions on finning.

Some developing countries such as The Maldives have also taken measures to protect the creatures; but Palau's initiative takes things to a new level, according to conservationists close to the project.

"Palau has recognised how important sharks are to healthy marine environments, and they've decided to do what no other nation has done and declare their entire Exclusive Economic Zone a shark sanctuary," said Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation at the Pew Environment Group.


Bodies without fins


Enlarge Image

"They are leading the world in shark conservation."

Mr Rand said that about 130 threatened species of shark frequented waters close to Palau and would be likely to gain from the initiative.

Although the country has only 20,000 inhabitants, its territory encompasses 200 scattered islands, which means that its territorial waters are much bigger than many nations a thousand times more populous.

Economics is clearly an incentive for the Palau government, which derives most of its income from tourism.

Sharks are themselves a big attraction for scuba-divers, and may also play a role in keeping coral reef ecosystems healthy.



Oceanic Whitetips and Scalloped Hammerheads will be safe in Palau's shark sanctuary. Footage courtesy of Living Ocean Productions

Globally, 21% of shark species whose extinction risk has been assessed fall into the "threatened" categories, and 18% are "near threatened". For a further 35%, there is not enough data to decide.

Over half of the species that spend most of their time in the upper layers of the ocean, exposed to fishing, are on the threatened list.

Illegal shark-finning is the main cause; but there are legal targeted hunts for fins and meat, and sharks are also caught accidentally on longlines set for fish such as marlin and tuna.

Port side catches

Enforcing the ban will be an issue for Palau, which possesses just one patrol boat capable of monitoring its waters.

A recent aerial survey found fishing 70 vessels in the area, most of them illegally.

But Carl-Gustaf Lundin, who heads the marine programme at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said there were other ways of tackling the illegal trade.

The time for setting aside tiny areas of sea that only protect a few sedentary species is over

Carl-Gustaf Lundin, IUCN
"For example, the US has been sharing lists of illegal vessels with established fishing companies, so that they can report on their dishonest or non-decent peers," he said.

"We're also exploring what options there are for monitoring remotely at low cost.

"And you don't need to catch people out there in the ocean; everyone needs to land their fish, so as long as you have most nations signed up to oppose illegal fishing, your chances of catching them are pretty decent."

Dr Lundin noted that earlier this week, another Pacific island state, Kiribati, signed off a collaboration with the US that establishes the largest marine reserve on the planet.

"The time for setting aside tiny areas of sea that only protect a few sedentary species is over; and it (the Palau sanctuary) is important because it shows the way in terms of putting large areas aside."

Considered position

In organisations such as the International Whaling Commission and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Palau has in recent years regularly sided with pro-hunting countries such as Japan.


Mr Toribiong told BBC News that before going to New York for the UN General Assembly, he had planned to "state to the world that Palau will revisit its current position" on whaling.

But following the recent change of government in Japan, and because of the two countries' "close relationship", he said there would now be a bilateral meeting.

"My position is to reconsider our current position in light of the most recent scientific data to ensure that the current position that Palau takes will not lead to the depletion and extinction of whales," he said.

But when it came to sharks, the president said he was sure that the sanctuary is backed by science - sharks are threatened as a group of species, and sanctuaries can help.

"Not all nations consider shark fins as delicacies," he said.

"And we feel that the need to protect the sharks outweighs the need to enjoy a bowl of soup."

Asked what he would be urging other leaders to do in his UN speech, he said simply: "To follow suit."

Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk

Editorial Comment: Brilliant - it will be interesting to monitor the improvement in sub-species, coral reef health and biodiversity resulting from this moratorium.
PREVIOUS ARTICLES

2013
Sea Urchins Tolerate Acid Water
06/04/13

SHARK KILLS NUMBER 100 MILLION ANNUALLY
02/03/13

2012
A Climate Change Agreement for Children
06/12/12

Cate Change takes Centre Stage
06/12/12

Ocean acidification and warming decrease calcification in the crustose coralline alga Hydrolithon on
13/10/12

Solar Panels - Are they really clean emergy technology
07/09/12

Ocean Acidification may limit Phytoplankton
27/08/12

Acidic POceans - why should we Care?
24/08/12

Carbon Dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere
24/08/12

Jellyfish and Chips
17/05/12

The Effects of El Nino on Marine Life (2)
19/02/12

The Effects of El Nino on Marine Life
19/02/12

Protect Our Oceans
14/01/12

Decrease in shark numbers poses risk to Great Barrier Reef
11/01/12

2011
IAP STATEMENT ON OCEAN ACIDIFICATION
28/10/11

Vast Shark Sanctuary created in the Pacific
03/10/11

Cora Reef Builders Vulnerableto Ocean Acidification
02/10/11

Is Hydrogen the Future of Motoring ??
20/09/11

Marine Protection Bids Unveiled
08/09/11

Stan Ovshinsky and the Hydrogen Economy
07/07/11

Shark Fishing Banned in the Bahamas
06/07/11

Relationships between coral and fishes on the Great Barrier Reef
10/06/11

Emissions and Growth Continue their Dance
08/06/11

Acid Test for Local Action
08/06/11

2010
'Alarming' plight of coral reefs
12/10/10

Nature's Sting - The real cost of damaging Planet Earth
12/10/10

Hoga Summary
27/09/10

Great White Sharks 'Shrinking'
14/09/10

Swiss Tycoon sends patrol boat to save Serengeti of sea
14/09/10

Asia Demand spurs Brazilian shark kills
04/08/10

Plankton decline across oceans as water warms
30/07/10

Met Office Views on Climate Change (CC)
26/07/10

Ocean Acidification in 2010
23/07/10

The Great Barrier Reef is threatened by Ships and their Cargo
22/05/10

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION ACCELERATES
30/04/10

Talking Points:Japan: eating tuna to extinction
29/03/10

UK TSB INVESTS £7M IN FUEL CELLS AND HYDROGEN
07/03/10

M4 in Wales to be 'Hydrogen Highway'
12/02/10

A Boost for Clean Energy
28/01/10

Declining Coral Calcification on the Great Barrier Reef
20/01/10

Coral Can Recover From Climate Change Damage
20/01/10

Ocean Acidification
12/01/10

Impacts of Ocean Acidification
12/01/10

Chalk one up for coccolithophores
12/01/10

Coral Reefs are evolution hotspot
09/01/10

2009
Beware the "evil twin" of climate change
30/12/09

Hydrogen Power for Vehicles - COP15
20/12/09

Natural Lab shows Sea's Acid Path
22/11/09

'Coral Lab offers Acidity Insight
22/11/09

UK Funds Sea Acidification Study
22/11/09

UK Climate Targets 'Unachievable'
13/11/09

Marine Bill Enters Final Stages
12/11/09

Recovering Scotland's Marine Environment
06/11/09

An Iron-clad Partnership
06/11/09

'Freezer Plan' bid to save coral
26/10/09

Action on Shark Finning
14/10/09

Arctic Seas turn to Acid
08/10/09

Sharks pay high price as demand for fins soar
08/10/09

Diverse Fish Reduce Coral Disease
05/10/09

Pacific Nation Declares Itself Shark Haven
03/10/09

Shark Trade Limits endorsed by EU
27/09/09

Palau Pioneers Shark Sanctuary
25/09/09

China Vows Climate Change Action
22/09/09

Shark Rescue is here
21/09/09

Doctors warn on Climate Failure
16/09/09

How Global Warming sealed the fate of the World's Coral Reefs
04/09/09

A SECOND NORTH SEA BONANZA ?
04/09/09

Paradise Lost
04/09/09

Shark Tagging Mission is under way
31/08/09

The Hydrogen Cycle
19/07/09

Climate Scenarios 'being realised'.
15/07/09

Ocean Acidification - Calcifying Phytoplankton
01/07/09

Ocean Acidification on benthic biodiversity
01/07/09

In the Soup - Shark species facing extinction
25/06/09

Over fishing Threatens Shark Extinction
25/06/09

Student film highlights plight of the oceans
04/05/09

Ocean Acidification threatens underwater ecosystems
04/05/09

Drowning in Plastic
30/04/09

'Clean' Coal Plants Get Go-Ahead
23/04/09

Paving the Road to COP15: Adaptation and Outreach
21/03/09

The Road to Catastrophe
20/03/09

World's leading scientists i n desperate plea to politicians to act on climate change
14/03/09

Pollution to devastate shellfish by turning seas acidic
14/03/09

THREATS FROM OCEAN ACIDIFICATION
11/03/09

CO2 HIGHEST FOR 650,000 YEARS
01/03/09

SLOW PROGRESS ON OCEAN PROTECTION
28/02/09

Jellyfish and Chips
18/02/09

London Marathon Motivation
07/02/09

EU Gives Shark Protection Teeth
06/02/09

ACID OCEANS 'NEED URGENT ATTENTION'
31/01/09

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION - The other CO2 problem
28/01/09

Panel Warns on Great Barrier Reef
03/01/09

Coral Reef Growth is Slowest Ever
03/01/09

2008
Changes amplify Arctic Warming
17/12/08

Rise in CO2 affrects Jumbo Squid
16/12/08

Jellyfish Invasion
21/11/08

The Rate of Ocean Acidification
18/11/08

Ocean Acidification Impacts
18/11/08

Impact of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Calcifiers
20/10/08

Nature Loss Dwarfs Bank Crisis
10/10/08

The Creation of Artificial Reefs
23/09/08

Iceland - Fossil fuels to Hydrogen-based Economy
17/09/08

The world's oceans at risk from rising acidity
25/07/08

Coral reefs under threat from humans
11/07/08

Ocean Acidification - Plankton hold surprise for Climate Research
28/06/08

Anthropogenic Ocean Acidification over the 21st Century and its Impact on Calcifying Organisms
13/06/08

Mileage from Megawatts
12/06/08

Could US scientists 'CO2 Catcher' help slow warming ?
09/06/08

Sharks Swim Closer to Extinction
22/05/08

Wildlife Populations Plummeting
16/05/08

Introducing Hydrogen Power
30/04/08

Ocean Acidification - Technical Information
28/04/08

Carbon Capture and Storage - UKCCSC Project
28/04/08

Lemon Sharks and Dogfish - Hyperbaric Sensitivity ??
29/03/08

The GAIA Theory
26/03/08

Status of the World's Coral Reefs
24/03/08

Krill, Fishing Threatens the Antarctic
23/03/08

Marine Altruistic Behaviour - - 4 stories
22/03/08

Global Sea Level Changes
22/03/08

Climate Change Controversies - A Simple Guide
21/03/08

Sharks and Coral Reefs (One year on)
10/03/08

Shark Species face extinction amid overfishing and appetite for fins
28/02/08

SCCT Presentation Uptake
11/02/08

Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification
27/01/08

An exchange of views on Marine Reserves and Trophic Cascades
25/01/08

2007
The Effects of Global Warming on the Great Barrier Reef
21/12/07

Microbial Ecology and Evolution:A Discussion at Metagenomics 2006
15/12/07

Habitat Conservation
28/11/07

Marine Balances and Climate Engineering
27/11/07

Oceans are 'soaking up' less CO2
20/10/07

Algal Blooms in the Ocean
08/09/07

UK Marine Bill
15/08/07

Tourism Vs Traditional Fishing
10/08/07

US National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks
29/07/07

Shark Depredation and unwanted Bycatch in Pelagic Longline Fisheries
17/07/07

Ecosystems: Coral Reefs
28/06/07

Shell-shocked
20/06/07

Ongoing Collapse of Coral Reef Shark Population
12/06/07

Shark trade restriction bid fails
12/06/07

Be nicer to sharks
26/05/07

Cascading Effects of the loss of Apex Predatory Sharks from a Coastal Ocean
25/05/07

Sharks are vital for Coral Reef Health
25/05/07

Sharkless Seas
21/05/07