Every week approximately 2 million sharks are killed, mostly to supply fins as a soup ingredient to Asian markets. One-third of shark species are threatened or near threatened with extinction. They mature late in life, have long reproductive cycles, and produce few young, making them extremely vulnerable to overfishing. Until the mortality numbers are drastically lowered, every week is Shark Week at Pew. Sharks play important roles in keeping our oceans healthy and serving as a source of ecotourism revenue for many countries.
There were seven significant gains in shark conservation since last year’s Shark Week that together will help slow the decline of sharks and secure their survival. Check back each day this week to learn about a different milestone.
1. French Polynesia and the Cook Islands
French Polynesia, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific, declared its entire exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, a shark sanctuary in December and banned commercial fishing of all shark species. With five archipelagos and an EEZ of more than 1.8 square miles (4.7 million square kilometers), the territory effectively protected more than 21 species of sharks in its waters.
Also in December, the Cook Islands declared its EEZ of more than 756,000 square miles (more than 1.9 million square kilometers) to be a shark sanctuary. Combined with neighboring French Polynesia, this constitutes the world’s largest contiguous shark sanctuary—more than 6.7 million square kilometers (2.6 million square miles).
Read the full article on Pew's Environmental Initiatives website.