Shark Savers launches worldwide ‘thank you' to Palau for protecting sharks

Posted on October 6, 2009
Written by: Shark Savers
Tags: Shark Sanctuaries Campaign 

New York, NY, October 5, 2009-Shark Savers announced today it has launched an online ‘thank you' card to harness worldwide support for Palauan President Johnson Toribiong's September 25th declaration of a National Shark Sanctuary. The online card is available for the public to sign at the Shark Savers web site.

Palau's move to protect sharks is one of the most complete and unequivocal shark conservation actions in history. It is also rare good news for sharks because their populations worldwide are collapsing due to unrelenting fishing pressure, as indicated by reports released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Sharks are critical to the ocean ecosystem because, as apex predators, they help to keep other marine populations in balance.

"With our online ‘thank you' card, we want to let President Toribiong and Palau know that we support them with this highly positive act. And they will need that support as they attempt to enforce the shark protection laws", said Michael Skoletsky, Executive Director of Shark Savers.

Enforcement of fishing laws is a constant concern for this island nation. Palau has only one boat with which to patrol 237,000 square miles of ocean. A recent 3 day aerial patrol in August 2009 conducted by the Royal Australian Air Force at the request of Palau recorded a total of 70 fishing vessels in Palauan waters from countries that included Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. Most of those fishing boats are thought to have been operating illegally.

Supporters of large international fisheries almost succeeded in derailing hope for a National Shark Sanctuary in Palau. Senate bill 8-44 was introduced into the Palau Senate in March of this year calling for the opening of Palau's waters to international shark fisheries.

Shark Savers actively opposed that Senate Bill through an online petition that garnered over four thousand signatures and comments worldwide. In its opposition to the bill, Shark Savers emphasized the economic value of sharks to tourism in Palau, as well as the importance of sharks to the ocean environment. Tourism is the largest contributor to Palau's GDP, and sharks are perhaps its biggest draw. The Senate Bill was officially withdrawn on September 29, 2009.

Dermot Keane, the Founder of the Palau Shark Sanctuary, said, "I have no doubt that Shark Savers' on-line petition (opposing Senate Bill 8-44) played a strong role in bringing about this most positive result." The Palau Shark Sanctuary is the Palauan NGO that has been working towards the establishment of a National Shark Sanctuary since 2001.

The public is encouraged to sign Shark Savers' ‘thank you' to Palau and to show continued support for this historic creation of the National Shark Sanctuary.