Shark Sanctuary

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most powerful. If you want to stop shark fishing and finning, don’t muck around with caps, fisheries management, and licenses. Address the problam directly and ban commercial fishing.

That’s the approach the Marshall islands took when they created the world’s largest shark sanctuary. Almost two million square kilometers of protected waters and reefs, WITH (and this is key, obviously) enforcement.

But there’s always a difference between the vision and the implementation. So it’s worth checking in on how the sanctuary is working out one year in. So the Pew Environment Group, which has been intimately involved in this effort, takes a look.

I’d love to believe things are going so well. And I love the fact that some people are now calling for a Pacific Ocean sanctuary. But I wonder what is happening with poaching. And “non-commercial” shark fishing. And commercial fishing of other species and bycatch. There is so much money in shark finning that there is always the danger that it will find a way to overcome, evade, or sneak through loopholes, in any sanctuary.

But those are challenges of implementation, and can be addressed with greater vigilance and funding. The essential point remains: sanctuaries are an immensely simple and powerful idea. And can do more to preserve and steward fish populations than any other approach.

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