08/04/2011 - As Americans tune in to TV programs like “Top 5 Eaten Alive” and “Jaws Comes Home” as part of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, leaders in the western Pacific have taken a big step to protect the predator, jointly deciding to create the largest shark sanctuary in the world.
The sanctuary covers two million square miles, approximately equivalent to two-thirds of the continental United States, and is the first joint regional attempt to protect sharks. The move was approved in a joint resolution signed at the 15th Micronesian chief executive summit meeting on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei.
The resolution opens a yearlong process to officially establish the sanctuary. It bans the harvesting of sharks and the possession and sale of shark parts throughout the island nations of Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands as well as Guam.
It is the first time that Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, which have exclusive economic control of about 1.5 million square miles of ocean, have taken action to protect sharks in their waters. “This issue is finally gaining traction,” said Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation for the Pew Environment Group, which helped draft the agreement.
In addition to the agreement in the western Pacific, Mr. Rand pointed to sanctuaries created in Honduras, Chile and the Bahamas this year.
Read the full blog post, Pacific Islands Band Together on a Shark Sanctuary, on The New York Times' Web site.