Commercial Shark Fishing Banned in the BahamasPosted by Stephanie Ulmer, Guest Blogger on July 27, 2011
A new law was passed on July 5th in the Bahamas, banning commercial shark fishing. The ban grants sweeping protections to more than forty species living in the waters around the island chain that calls itself “the shark diving capital of the world.” According to msnbc.com, the Bahamas is home to one of the “most diverse and thriving shark populations in the world,” mostly due to a 20-year-old ban on longline fishing. Although somewhat protected before this new law, fisherman seemed to find ways around using longlines in order to catch sharks. But those loopholes have now been closed. This newly-passed ban applies to almost 243,000 square miles of water surrounding the archipelago, where blacktip, spinner and brown sharks are among the most common species. The new law bans the sale, export and import of shark meat and increases shark-fishing fines from $3,000 to $5,000.
Activists had fought arduously for the new law after a local seafood company announced that it planned to export shark meat and fins to Hong Kong, where shark fin soup is considered a delicacy. Due to shark over-fishing, shark meat has now become quite controversial, and there have been many calls to end shark fishing all over the world. The over-fishing has in fact led to an estimated killing of 73 million sharks worldwide each year, according to Pew Environment Group of Washington, D.C. But the good news here is that progress is being made to protect these animals. The Bahamas now joins Palau, the Maldives and Honduras in issuing such a ban, while a similar ban is also under consideration in California.