World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary Established in the Coral Triangle (Environment Alert)

1031239 A shark sanctuary larger than Denmark has been declared around the Raja Ampat islands in Indonesia, covering 17,760 square miles (46,000 square kilometers) of one of the world's richest marine biodiverse region, the Coral Triangle. Protections also extend to dugongs, marine turtles, mobulas, and manta rays as well. In addition, reef bombing and fishing for the aquarium trade are banned. Seventy-five percent of shark species found in Raja Ampat are threatened with extinction.


"Sharks are being killed for their fins, mantas are being killed for their gills, and rare reef fish are being caught for aquariums," said Peter Knights, Executive Director of WildAid, a conservation organization that works in the region. "It’s tragic that so much of Raja Ampat’s biological treasure is destined for consumers who are unaware of the impact."  It is estimated that 73 million sharks are killed every year for their fins alone.

Campaigners for the new sanctuary hope the move will bring more divers and tourists to the region, thereby offsetting any loss of revenues for local communities due to the new regulations.

"This new Shark Sanctuary owes its creation to thousands of ocean advocates who expressed the urgent need to protect sharks, mantas, and other marine life," stated Michael Skoletsky, Executive Director of Shark Savers, a conservation group that campaigned for the sanctuary. "Divers experience the oceans from the inside and are increasingly taking responsibility for ocean and shark conservation. Underwater ecotourism is a vital tool to counter the rampant exploitation of the world’s remaining sharks and bio-rich marine ecosystems."

Jason McManus via mongabay.com

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