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The Shark Sanctuaries program is protecting existing shark populations

Photo Credit: Danielle Heinrichs

Shark Savers' Shark Sanctuary Program fills the need to support local initiatives to protect sharks (and other marine life, such as manta and mobula rays, marine mammals and turtles). Our team works with community-based partners to create outreach campaigns to garner community support for shark protection, produce effective proposals to establish legal protection for sharks, and generate international support for these initiatives.  It is imperative that we act quickly to protect shark populations that still remain.

The momentum for protecting sharks is growing with the nations of Palau, the Maldives, Honduras, the Bahamas, Tokelau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Indonesian Regency of Raja Ampat establishing their waters as shark sanctuaries.  Meanwhile a number of US states and territories have enacted shark protections, including shark fin trade bans in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Hawaii, California, Washington, Oregon and Illinois, and protection for several shark species in Florida.  Shark Savers contributed to a number of these successful initiatives, including:


New patrol boat purchased for Raja Ampat Shark Sanctuary. To keep poachers out of the Raja Ampat Shark Sanctuary, Shark Savers matched the donation of Oris Watches' Ocean Hero Award to Shawn Heinrichs, and raised funds to go towards the purchase of a new patrol boat for the southern region of the sanctuary.

Illinois bans the sale, trade and possession of shark fins. Shark Savers worked with a coalition of conservation organizations to help make Illinois the first Midwestern state to join the international movement against the shark fin trade.


Shark trade ban enacted in The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Collaborating with Pew Environment Group and WildAid, Shark Savers worked to research and provide support for the passing of this important law in CNMI. The law states that is is illegal to sell, trade or be in possession of shark’s fin within the CNMI jurisdiction.

Shark trade ban enacted in Guam.  With Pew Environment Group and WildAid, Shark Savers helped to provide supporting information to Guam officials when considering a trade ban for the island territory.  Guam passed Public Law 31-10, which prohibits the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins, rays, and ray parts.

Marshall Islands Shark Sanctuary created.  Shark Savers supported efforts to move the Marshall Islands government towards a complete ban of commercial shark fishing.  Shark fishing, as well as the sale and possession of any shark products, are now banned in all 768,547 square miles of the Marshall Island’s waters, making it the largest sharks sanctuary in the world. 

California, Washington, Oregon ban the trade. As part of a coalition of organizations, Shark Savers worked to support the passing of laws prohibiting the possession and sale of shark fins in these states, thus closing down the U.S. West Coast to shark fin transshipment and consumption. Our 'Ban the Fin' petition in partnership with LUSH cosmetics garnered 50,000+ supporters. 

Florida protects Large Coastal Sharks. Shark Savers worked with Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff, scientists, concerned citizens and marine-based businesses to pass legal protections for five large coastal shark species (Lemon, Tiger, Great, Scalloped and Smooth hammerhead sharks) in Florida State waters in 2011-2012.


Raja Ampat Shark Sanctuary created in Indonesia. Shark Savers co-led the initiative to create Indonesiaʼs largest shark and ray sanctuary in Raja Ampat, working with Misool Eco Resort. In addition to contributing powerful imagery and well-referenced econommic and scientific justification for protecting sharks and rays for the government proposal, Shark Savers generated vital support from the international dive community in the form of a petition and testimony from over 8,500 individuals, and the official endorsement from over 70 NGOs, dive and travel industry businesses, and government leaders from around the globe.

Hawaii Shark Fin Trade Ban enacted. Shark Savers supported the Hawaiian legislative team and local shark advocates with documentation explaining the importance of protecting sharks and efforts to generate media attention to galvanize international support for the world's first shark fin trade ban.


Palau Shark Sanctuary created. When Palau considered opening its waters to foreign fishing and relaxing its laws on shark finning, Shark Savers rallied critical support from conservationists and SCUBA diving communities around the world to petition the government to reject the legislation.  After more than four thousand signatures and the work of the Palau Shark Sanctuary NGO, who had been campaigning for a sanctuary since 2001, Palau not only withdrew the bill, but created a National Shark Sanctuary that would protect all sharks in Palau.