09/25/2009 - The Pacific island nation of Palau has declared all of its waters a sanctuary for sharks. The archipelago, famed among biologists and divers for its rich marine life, has seen increases in illegal shark fishing, driven by the high prices paid for shark fins in China. I met President Johnson Toribiong earlier this week as the United Nations climate summit ended, and he described the problems, which are particularly troublesome in a place where tourism revolving around reef diving is a top source of income.
Given that, for the moment, Palau has only one enforcement vessel to patrol an ocean zone a bit smaller than Texas, the challenge of turning a ban from rhetoric to reality remains. But Palau is getting significant support from private groups, particularly the Pew Charitable Trusts, which worked with groups and government officials in Palau to create the sanctuary plan.
Read the full article Pacific Nation Declares Itself a Shark Haven on the The New York Times' Dot Earth blog.