2 Sep 2013

Pacific ramps up shark protection as Asian demand for fins drops

8:47 am on 2 September 2013

Aggressive efforts to establish a Pacific-wide ban on shark finning could soon dramatically reduce the supply chain to the Asian market.

Angelo Villagomez, a shark expert with the Pew Charitable Trust, is in Majuro for this week's Pacific Islands Forum and says finning is being slowly shut down as the number of islands legislating shark sanctuaries grows.

Palau, Marshall Islands, Guam, the Northern Marianas, and three of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia - Yap, Pohnpei and Kosrae - have all passed shark protection legislation, creating a vast north Pacific shark conservation area.

Several South Pacific countries have also banned shark finning.

During this week's Pacific Islands Forum, Mr Villagomez says he is meeting with leaders of countries that endorsed shark sanctuaries to see how other countries could get interested.

He says the Pacific is leading the world in shark conservation, with fishing boats required to have independent observers on board to monitor the catch.

Since passing a law banning shark fishing in Marshall Islands waters in 2011, officials have caught two foreign vessels for having shark fins on board, and fined them over $100,000.