The Bahamas shark sanctuary was created in July of 2011 by adding an amendment to the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Act (Chapter 244). The amendment created shark protections throughout all the territorial waters of the Bahamas, over 650,000 square kilometers of ocean. It was a major win for sharks, who already benefit from the long-line ban of 1992. The Bahamas has long history of valuing sharks, recognizing the large amount of revenue through shark specific ecotourism. Here’s what the amendment says:
These Regulations, which amend the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Regulations, may be cited as the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) (Amendment) Regulations, 2011.
Insertion of new PART VA into the principal Regulations.
The principal Regulations are amended by the insertion immediately after Regulation 36, of the new PART VA as follows-
36A. Prohibition on possessing, fishing for or landing shark or shark parts.
Subject to Regulation 36D, no person shall possess, fish for or land, any shark or shark parts with.in The Bahamas or within the Exclusive Fishery Zone ofThe Bahamas.
36B. Prohibition on the sale of shark, shark parts or shark products.
No person shall sell any shark, shark parts or shark products within The Bahamas or within the Exclusive Fishery Zone of The Bahamas.
36C. Prohibition on export or import of shark, shark parts or shark products.
Subject to Regulation 36D, no person shall export from, or import into, The Bahamas–
(a) any shark;
(b) shark parts; or
(c) shark products.
36D. Permit to fish for, possess or export any shark or shark parts for educational, scientific or research purposes.
(1) A person who wishes to fish for, have in his possession or export any shark or shark parts for educational, scientific or research purposes, shall apply to the Minister for a permit.
(2) An application made under paragraph (1), shall be made in the manner set out in Form 19A in the First Schedule.
(3) Where the Minister approves an application made under paragraph (1), he shall issue a permit as set out in Form 20A of the First Schedule, specifying the terms and conditions of the approval including the payment of fees as specified in the Third Schedule
36E. Catch and release of sharks.
A person who hooks or catches a shark while fishing shall promptly release the shark into the sea unharmed.”.
We’re obviously very excited to work in a sanctuary where sharks are protected and valued. There’s certainly work to be done and as with any new regulations, it will take time and proper enforcement to effect change.
The Pew Charitable Trusts joins partners in Hawaii and the scientific community in praising today’s announcement by President Barack Obama that the United States has expanded the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, also known as Papahānaumokuākea, to 582,578 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers).
Source: Pew Applauds Expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
Sharks play a vital role in marine ecosystems, helping to maintain a balance that’s critical for commercially important fisheries. But they are also one of the most misunderstood creatures in the world’s oceans — the odds of experiencing a shark attack are just 1 in 11.5 million.
Learn more about the global threat posed by the shark fin trade, as well as conservation efforts including shark sanctuaries in Palau, the Maldives, Honduras, The Bahamas, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau.
Sharks are in trouble globally, and there are few locations where healthy shark populations still exist. The Bahamas is one of these rare exceptions. Because of the ban on longline fishing gear in the 1990s, Bahamian shark populations remain relatively healthy with a great diversity of species. By establishing comprehensive protections for sharks, not only will sharks be permanently safeguarded against other threats, but the health of the marine environment and the economy of The Bahamas will be conserved for generations to come.
An Asset to The Bahamas
Tourism is the largest economic income generating sector in The Bahamas. Many tourists come to The Bahamas to participate in diving or recreational fishing. Television and film crews also frequent The Bahamas to make use of the clear water and available shark species, generating further public and media attention for the islands. As a result, the high diversity and abundance of sharks provide a valuable asset to the Bahamian economy.
The Bahamas is one of the top destinations to snorkel and/or dive with sharks, claiming the name “Shark Diving Capital of the World.” Sharks rank high on the majority of scuba divers’ must-see lists, and many divers would be willing to pay more to see a shark in the wild. With 92 percent of The Bahamas Dive Association members offering some form of shark dive activity, sharks have become the main attraction in The Bahamas. Over the past 20 years, shark related tourism has contributed more than US$800 million dollars to the Bahamian economy. A single reef shark is estimated to be worth US$250,000 over its lifetime for tourism if kept alive on the reef. If it is fished, the same shark generates a one-time value of US$50-60. Sharks are clearly worth more alive than dead, demonstrating the need to protect this valuable resource.
Sharks under Threat
Sharks have been swimming the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years. They have survived multiple mass extinctions, but they are not equipped to withstand the threats now posed by humans. Their life history characteristics, such as slow growth, late maturation and production of few offspring, make them vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from decline. As a result, shark populations are in trouble globally.
The demand for shark fins, meat, liver oil and other products has driven numerous shark populations to the brink of extinction. The growing demand for the Asian delicacy, shark fin soup, has led to the killing of up to 73 million sharks a year and is impacting shark populations worldwide, which could potentially affect The Bahamas. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has assessed that 30 percent of shark and ray species around the world are threatened or near threatened with extinction. The loss of sharks could cause irreversible damage to the ocean—and to economic activities, such as dive tourism, that benefit from healthy marine habitats.
Permanent Protection for Sharks
Time is of the essence – giving sharks permanent protection in The Bahamas helps
grow our economy, creates jobs and helps secure the continued survival of these
Humans kill some 100 million sharks annually, largely for shark fin soup. Some shark species, like the oceanic whitetip, have declined up to 99 percent.
To find out how new trade restrictions are affecting the global shark fin trade, shark geneticist Demian Chapman is using DNA to get an accurate picture of how they’re caught and traded, as well as the role they play in our oceans.
“The same techniques that are used for solving crimes,” said Chapman, a Pew marine fellow, “are the exact same ones we use to solve crimes involving wildlife.”
Once considered one of the most abundant sharks in the ocean.
They are currently suffering declines of 70-90% wherever they are found.
The international shark fin trade is the principal driver behind their overexploitation.
There is inadequate control over the number that can be caught, sold or traded every year.
An Appendix II listing would limit the trade to sustainable levels.
This September, 182 Parties will decide whether or not to give this species the protections it so desperately needs.
Parties should vote to list silky sharks on CITES Appendix II at COP17.
A listing on CITES Appendix II means that the trade of that animal must be controlled in order to avoid endangerment and extinction. If the person/company/country etc cannot show proof of sustainability, then the animal cannot be traded. This, in effect, leads to their protection, as it is nearly impossible to prove sustainable trade of these animals.
As apex predators, tiger sharks and other shark species play a critical role in maintaining the health of ocean ecosystems.
But shark populations are decreasing around the world, due to overfishing and the high demand for shark fin soup. When their numbers plummet, it can have a chain reaction on ocean food webs, impacting seabirds and commercially important fish species, such as tuna and jacks. This is only one example of how removing sharks from the marine environment may have other negative effects that spread through the food web.
In July 2011, The Bahamas declared a shark sanctuary in its Exclusive Economic Zone. Two months earlier, scientists had tagged 12 oceanic whiteips around The Bahamas and created an animation that tracked the movement of three of those sharks. The scientists found that although they are highly migratory, oceanic whitetips spent most of their time within the sanctuary. Sanctuaries are an important refuge for sharks.
Epic Diving participates in town hall meeting with the Bahamas National Trust
Here’s a video put together by PEW back in 2011 when the Bahamas was working to establish a National Shark Sanctuary. The Bahamas has long been a safe haven for sharks since the Long Line ban of 1992. Over the past 20-30 years, shark populations have remained healthy and the nation has certainly experienced the benefits of shark tourism. We were proud to work alongside PEW and the Bahamas National Trust back in 2011 to raise public awareness and help pass the sanctuary!
Bahamas Shark Sanctuary
Sharks are in trouble globally, and there are few locations where healthy shark populations still exist. In The Bahamas, a 20 year-old ban on longline fishing gear has left its waters as one of the few places in the world with relatively healthy shark populations. This has paid off for the small island nation. According to The Bahamas Diving Association, diving tourism has contributed up to $800 million to the Bahamian economy since the longline ban. There are, however, no laws there that specifically protect sharks. Pew is currently working with The Bahamas National Trust to gain permanent protections in all of The Bahamas’ Exclusive Economic Zone, an area encompassing approximately 630,000 square kilometers of ocean. By establishing comprehensive protections for sharks, not only will sharks be permanently safeguarded against other threats, but the health of the marine environment and the economy of The Bahamas will be conserved for generations to come.