Predators from Jaws in danger
Environmentalists say sharks have joined the numerous species of wildlife that are in danger.
The Pew Environment Group cheered the announcement by the Maldives that it would create a shark sanctuary covering all of its 35,000 square miles. Pew said about 73 million sharks, including the unmistakable hammerhead, are killed each year. Their fins are used in shark soup.
Meat is taken from the porbeagle and spiny dogfish.
Now some countries are seeing that sharks can draw tourists. Australia is among them.
“The Maldives were one of the first countries to recognize that sharks were a key reason tourists went to dive there," said Matt Rand, director of Global Shark Conservation for the Pew Environment Group. "Today's announcement protects the Maldives' tourism industry -- the largest segment of their economy -- from the ravages of the shark fin trade. It is a bold and farsighted move on the part of the government of the Maldives."
Palau already has declare an area near the island nation a shark sanctuary.
Some shark species will be considered for protection at the upcoming meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
"Countries are beginning to recognize just how important vibrant shark populations are to healthy ocean ecosystems, and to their ecotourism industries," said Rand. His comments were made on the PR Newswire.
"The Pacific island of Palau, whose pristine marine environment is a favorite of the dive community, created a shark sanctuary in its own waters in September 2009 and has sponsored all four of the CITES proposals to protect sharks. We will see at CITES whether the rest of the world will also step forward and save sharks."