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Saving Sharks: Ocean Sanctuaries Expand in Pacific

The Pacific island nation of Kiribati has established the world’s second-largest (1.3 million-square-mile) shark sanctuary, which bans commercial fishing throughout, and has also expanded the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary. The possession, trade and sale of sharks and shark products are also prohibited in these areas as is the use of fishing gear such as wire leaders for targeting sharks.

Worldwide, about 100 million sharks are killed each year in commercial fisheries. Nearly 30 percent of all known shark species assessed by scientists are now threatened with extinction. Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they mature and reproduce slowly. Many Pacific island nations have established shark sanctuaries, recognizing the valuable ecosystem and economic roles that healthy populations provide.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora recently added 13 shark and mobula ray species to its list, a step toward ensuring sustainable and legal trade of these species.