The Pacific nation of Palau was honored as the world’s first shark sanctuary during the United Nations General Assembly in New York last September. And now, The Maldives join forces with Palau to further the conservation of the worlds’ shark population.
These pro-active and increased efforts come as a result of the diminishing shark population, which is in danger of collapse because of limited protective measures. As a matter of fact, shark
fishing has grown rapidly since the mid-1980s, because of the rising demand for shark fin soup, a highly coveted expression of wealth. Sharks, in general, have a long life span and low fertility rates making them vulnerable to extinction.
Palau, with 20,000 inhabitants and an archipelago of more than 500 islands, formally established a protective zone to help preserve the predatory fish and support local tourism, protecting its 136 species in its 237,000 square miles of ocean, an area nearly the size of Texas.
And just last week, The Maldives announced it was making its territorial waters a shark sanctuary as well and has banned all imports and exports of shark fins.
In addition to the ethical and economic impact of protecting the shark population, sharks are an apex predator that are critical for maintaining the health of the oceans and the health of the population of fish and other species that are a mainstay of the human diet.