Shark Guardians Cite Momentum in Push to Save Species

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 1:50 pm (UTC-5)
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A leading environmental group is calling for more marine sanctuaries to protect the global shark population, which is in sharp decline because over-fishing and a ravenous human appetite for shark fin soup.

Global Shark Conservation, in a report released Monday, called for sanctuaries in the Bahamas, and heaped praise on the Pacific island nation of Palau, which in 2009 became the first country to declare its territorial waters a safe haven for sharks. The document also voices support for a national law in Chile that is expected to protect more than 50 shark species found off its Pacific coast.

The organization, a division of the U.S.-based Pew Charitable Trusts, cites studies showing up to 73 million sharks are killed yearly, primarily for their fins, which end up in shark-fin soup — a delicacy in China and other Asian countries. The document, titled “Sharks in Trouble: Hunters Become the Hunted,” also quotes marine scientists who estimate that 30 percent of all shark species are threatened with near or total extinction.

The report lauds the Maldives and Honduras for banning shark finning — a practice in which shark fins are hacked from the live animals before they are thrown back into the sea to drown. Global Shark Conservation also calls on fishing countries to ban the removal of shark fins at sea.


The report also notes legislation under consideration in California that would ban shark finning, and says the practice is responsible for a 90 percent decline in some shark species. The state of Hawaii last year became the first government in the world to ban the sale and consumption of shark-fin soup.