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The Cook Islands created a 1.9 million square kilometers shark sanctuary in their ocean today. The Mayans were wrong -- today wasn't the end of the world, it was the beginning of the end of the overfishing of sharks!
The sanctuary, encompassing an area the size of Mexico, is the result of a partnership between Shark Defenders Pew Environment Group and the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative, and had the support of many local community and political leaders. Hundreds of signatures were collected on a local petition, and students submitted letters and drawings bearing the message “Akono Te Mango (Protect Our Sharks).”
"We are proud as Cook Islanders to provide our entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ), an area of 1.9 million square kilometers as a shark sanctuary,” said the Honorable Teina Bishop, Cook Islands minister of marine resources when he made the announcement today. “Together with our Polynesian neighbor, Tahiti Nui (French Polynesia), we have created the largest shark sanctuary in the World. We join our Pacific neighbors to protect this animal, which is very vital to the health of our oceans, and our culture."
“We’re very proud to stand together today in celebration for sharks and for the community,” said Stephen Lyon, director of the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative. “It further establishes the Cook Islands, which has already declared both a whale sanctuary and a marine park, as a world leader in marine protection.”
“This is hopeful news for the world’s sharks and our efforts to protect them,” said Jill Hepp, director of shark conservation for the Pew Environment Group. “We are thrilled to see the Cook Islands become part of this global movement during a time when so many shark populations are threatened.”
The Pew Environment Group has more information on their website.