All of the Bahamas coastline is about to become a safe sanctuary for sharks as the nation announced on Tuesday a complete ban of shark fishing in its waters. After Honduras, the Maldives and Palau, Bahamas becomes the fourth archipelago to take the important protective measure.
Bahamas has a total 630,000 sq km (243,000 square miles) of shores and with the ban the total area can easily become a protected sanctuary for sharks. The important ban was approved by Agriculture Minister Larry Cartwright in the capital, Nassau. Additionally the government has also increased shark fishing fine from $3,000 to $5,000.
Sharks all over the world are mostly under threat because of their high demand for making Chinese cuisines. According to environmentalists, around 73 million sharks are killed each year.
The government of Bahamas had taken action in 1993 first when it banned long line fishing for sharks. This helped save 40 species of sharks that roamed in and around the nation’s coastlines. But last year a local seafood company announced its plans to export shark fin meat and fins to Honk Kong. This news aggravated activists and they have been since then calling for a new law.
Neil McKinney, president of the Bahamas National Trust, which manages the country’s resources said on hearing about the ban, “They desperately need protection if we’re not going to drive them to extinction.”
He also believes that sharks play a very important role in balancing the ecosystem.
Sharks are an important part of the Bahamas economy. Shark diving alone, as a tourist attraction brings $80 million annually. As per the US-based Pew Environment Group each reef shark brings some $250,000 to the economy. The main island, New Providence has a major attraction, the Jaws beach where one of the Jaws film was shot.
Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette believed that the ban will not sour the relations of the nation with China.
“This is in keeping with the government’s commitment to pursue conservation policies and strategies in order to safeguard the marine and terrestrial environment,” he said.
The sharks thankfully have found another part of the world where they can roam freely.