25 Apr 2013

New Caledonia bans fishing of sharks in EEZ

9:08 am on 25 April 2013

The New Caledonian government has decided to ban the fishing of sharks, which are being decimated to feed growing demand for luxury goods.

Authorities say it has imposed a ban to fish, capture, detention or commercialisation of all species of sharks in its exclusive economic zone - an area roughly the size of South Africa.

It has also banned so-called shark-feeding, a popular tourist activity that consists of giving food to the animals to observe them from a close vantage point.

The territory joins other countries in the region to have created shark sanctuaries, including French Polynesia, Palau, Marshall Islands and Tokelau.

Conservationists warn that dozens of shark species are under threat.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, people kill about 100 million sharks a year, mostly for their fins, which are used for expensive, luxury soups in China.

FAO also says shark-fin soup was once a luxury enjoyed just by China's elite, but as the country's 1.3 billion people have grown wealthier and incorporated it into their festivities, shark populations have been increasingly decimated.