New York (Global Adventures): The Republic of Palau, a tiny island nation in the Pacific Ocean, and the Central American republic of Honduras signed a declaration urging other nations to conserve the world’s dwindling shark populations or run the risk of losing the ocean’s top predator and throwing the marine food chain out of balance. The ceremony in New York coincided with the high level plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to review the Millennium Development Goals. Which include a target for preserving global biodiversity.
Johnson Toribiong of the Republic of Palau and President Porfirio Lobo Sosa of the Republic of Honduras called on coastal countries to establish shark sanctuaries in their waters, where no shark fishing is permitted, and for all fishing countries to end shark finning and the global overfishing of sharks. Much of the sharks’ fin trade uses fins cut from living sharks, called finning. Because shark meat is worth much less, the now finless and often still-living sharks are thrown back into the sea. In the ocean, the sharks either die from suffocation or are eaten because they are unable to move normally.
“We have done what we can in Palau’s waters to save these magnificent masters of the sea,” said Toribiong who announced the world’s first national shark sanctuary at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly session in 2009. We have found that healthy shark populations keep our marine environment healthy and our tourism industry thriving. However, if unregulated overfishing of sharks throughout the world’s oceans continues, small island states such as ours will lose a vital resource. So the oceans on which our very lives depend will be irrevocably altered.
Of the 1,045 shark
and ray species assessed by scientists for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), about 30 percent are threatened or near threatened with extinction, said the PEW Charitable Trusts in a press release. Scientists lack enough data to properly assess the population status for 47 percent of shark and ray species.
“Our decision to protect sharks was made not just for this generation but for generations to come,” said Lobo. Whose government announced a moratorium on all shark fishing in Honduran waters in February of this year. The price of shark fins for the global trade drives fishermen to skirt or break limits on fishing. Therefore, finning that would otherwise conserve shark populations. We call on other governments to join us in protecting sharks in their waters. So for the sake of healthy coastal marine ecosystems and economic development.
Up to 73 million sharks are killed annually to support the international shark-fin trade. In general, sharks grow slowly, mature late and produce few young over long lifetimes. After that leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and slow to recover. As key predators, they play an important role in the health of the ocean ecosystems. In March, the member nations of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora voted against a proposal to protect several species of sharks.
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