Bahamas become fourth country to ban shark fishing

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Bahamas has become the fourth country to ban shark fishing
Image: Dr. James P. McVey, NOAA Sea Grant Program.

The Bahamas on Tuesday approved a law banning shark fishing in its waters, along with selling, importing and exporting shark products. This makes the Bahamas the fourth country to ban shark fishing, joining the Maldives, Honduras, and Palau. The 630,000 sq km of water around the Bahamas has now become an official shark sanctuary.

The ban is welcomed by many, including environmentalists. The President of the Bahamas National Trust, Neil McKinney, spoke about the issue saying, "They desperately need protection if we're not going to drive them to extinction." Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette also commented on the ban: "This is in keeping with the government's commitment to pursue conservation policies and strategies in order to safeguard the marine and terrestrial environment."

However, some feel that the ban will affect relations with China. Shark-fin soup is highly popular in China, with around 73 million sharks killed every year. To prepare shark-fin soup, the fins are often scraped off, and the body of the shark is thrown back into the water. A report published by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that shark populations have fallen by 70 to 80 per cent, with a third of all shark species being threatened or nearly threatened by extinction.