Washington, D.C. -
04/23/2013 - Josh Reichert, executive vice president of The Pew Charitable Trusts, issued the following statement today in response to New Caledonia's announcement of comprehensive and permanent shark protections in its waters.
"We applaud New Caledonia's decision to create a shark sanctuary by banning fishing for all shark species in the country's entire exclusive economic zone. At 1,245,000 square kilometers (480,000 square miles), an area roughly the size of South Africa, the ocean around New Caledonia is still healthy and intact, and home to spectacular marine life, including approximately 50 species of sharks.
"In the past few months alone, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, American Samoa, and the Micronesian state of Kosrae have ended shark fishing in their waters.
"In March, 177 countries voted to protect the oceanic whitetip, porbeagle and three types of hammerhead sharks during the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Though great progress is being made, sharks are still threatened throughout much of the world's oceans. The finding of a recent scientific study that approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year in commercial fisheries represents an urgent call to governments around the world to take action before it's too late. Scientists warn that the rate of fishing for sharks, many of which grow slowly and reproduce late in life, is unsustainable and could lead to the extinction of many species.
"The role of sharks is critical to the health of marine systems. One third of shark species are currently Threatened or Near Threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There is an immediate need to protect them before they slip below levels from which they may never recover. It's now up to countries to build on this recent success and ensure a promising future for sharks."