Sunday, March 25, 2012

Inspiring the World

Students from Simon Sanchez HS, George Washington HS, and John F Kennedy HS show off their art project "Shark Fins in the Sand" at Ypoa Beach on Saturday, March 24.  The students created 730 handmade shark fins to represent the 73 millions sharks killed each year for their fins.  Each fin represents 100,000 sharks, the number of sharks killed every 12 hours.
Guest Blog
by Carlotta Leon Guerrero

Around the world, Micronesia is fast becoming known as home to the world’s first shark sanctuary, the world’s largest shark sanctuary, and thanks to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, the second and third shark fin trade bans in the world, respectively.

Micronesia leads the world in shark conservation, both in terms of the area of ocean protected, implementation and enforcement of policies, and fines levied against lawbreakers. This leadership is an inspiration to the rest of the world.

Last year, following the laws passed in Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, the entire west coast of the United States banned the sale, trade, and possession of shark fin. Shark fin trade bans were also passed in the Canadian municipalities of Brantford, Mississauga, Oakville, Pickering, London, and Toronto. In the last few months, similar laws have been introduced in legislatures in Florida, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and even land-locked Illinois.

Stirred by Palau’s 2011 landmark declaration of the world’s first shark sanctuary, in 2011 The Bahamas, Tokelau, Honduras, and the Marshall Islands declared shark sanctuaries, ending commercial shark fishing in their countries’ full exclusive economic zones. The shark sanctuary in the Marshall Islands is 1,990,530 square kilometers, an ocean area four times the landmass of California.

Worldwide interest in sharks has boomed in recent years, and dive enthusiasts are willing to travel thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars to swim with these creatures. Palau, of course, is well known for dive sites that sharks frequent on a daily basis. A recent study found that this shark diving accounts for fully 8% of Palau’s annual GDP. It is only a matter of time before the world discovers the rest of Micronesia and the other shark and ray dives throughout your islands.

Congratulations to everyone involved on our one-year anniversary in creating policies to protect sharks. Thank you to our senators for working with the community to draft science driven, culturally sensitive policy, thank you to Governor Calvo for signing this important legislation into law, and thank you to all the citizen activists, especially the students at Simon Sanchez High School, George Washington High School, and John F. Kennedy High School for your infectious energy. Working together, with local citizens teaming up with international organizations like Humane Society International, Shark Savers, and the Pew Environment Group, we can protect the world’s sharks from extinction.

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