Marshall Islands Government creates World's largest shark sanctuary

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The Marshall Islands government has announced the creation of the world's largest shark sanctuary which is situated in the central Pacific Ocean and covers and area of over 750,000 square-miles.

The Marshall Islands are a popular destination for scuba divingactivities and the country is likely to see an increase in visitors after the government announced that all trading in shark products and commercial shark fishing throughout its waters will be banned.

Shark Diving in Bahamas
Image by : Andrey_Sukhov, on Flickr.

Matt Rand, the Director of Global Shark Conservation for the Pew Environment Group, said: "We salute the Republic of the Marshall Islands for enacting the strongest legislation to protect sharks that we have seen.

"As leaders recognise the importance of healthy shark populations to our oceans, the momentum for protecting these animals continues to spread across the globe."

Senator Tony deBrum, who co-sponsored the bill through the Marshallese parliament, added: "In passing this [shark protection] bill, there is no greater statement we can make about the importance of sharks to our culture, environment and economy.

"Ours may be a small island nation, but our waters are now the biggest place sharks are protected."

Sharks grow and reproduce relatively slowly and are especially vulnerable to accidental or targeted fishing. Approximately one third of ocean sharks are on the internationally-recognised Red List of Threatened Species.

puping a shark
Image by : Isabela Baquerizo, on Flickr.

The area of the shark sanctuary is about eight times bigger than the size of the United Kingdom and the new law states that all shark fishing is banned and any fish that have accidently been caught must be released back into the waters alive. Certain fishing gear will be banned from Marshallese waters and anyone who breaks the new law could face up to £200,000 in fines.

Rand added: "The Marshall Islands have joined Palau, the Maldives, Honduras, the Bahamas and Tokelau in delivering the gold standard of protection for ensuring shark survival.

"We look forward to helping other countries enlist in this cause."

The Marshall Islands are a popular destination forscuba diving holidays and the extension of the protected shark sanctuary is likely to attract more divers who are keen to experience scuba diving with sharks.

snorkeling with galapagos sharks
Image by : Isabela Baquerizo, on Flickr.

While enjoying scuba diving holidays in the Micronesian waters, divers can explore sunken World War II wrecks of ships and aircraft and marvel at the beautiful colourful corals and marine species such as reef fish, sea turtles, eagle rays, manta rays, dolphins and sharks.
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