Indonesia is also the worldâ€™s largest shark fishery.
Online PR News – 27-March-2011 – – Indonesia presents a paradox. It enjoys the most biodiverse ocean environments on the planet. Unfortunately, Indonesia is also the worldâ€™s largest shark fishery, having all but emptied its waters of a valuable resource: its sharks.
Raja Ampat, in Eastern Indonesia, is the crown jewel of the Coral Triangle that boasts the greatest concentration of coral and fish species on earth. In May 2007, the Raja Ampat government declared seven Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to protect these important ecosystems, together with the effort of The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and WWF Indonesia.
The Raja Ampat MPAs cover almost 3,474 square miles of coral reefs and mangroves. Perhaps 20% of that area comprises â€˜No-Takeâ€™ Zones where fishing is prohibited. A new Marine Conservation Area has also been established in the Misool region of Raja Ampat by Misool Eco Resort (MER). Its entire 174 square miles is a No-Take Zone and a shark sanctuary that is constantly patrolled with the help of grants from WildAid and the Coral Reef Alliance. Within just two years of establishment, shark numbers have increased dramatically and sharks are already returning to, growing, and mating in this small shark sanctuary!
Nevertheless, shark fishing and finning continues unabated in the vast majority of Raja Ampatâ€™s waters that are beyond the protection of the No-Take Zones. It is now very rare to see a shark in Raja Ampat outside of a No-Take-Zone. Shark finners, having fished out the mature sharks in the area, are now moving against the last very young sharks they can find, even though their fins are small and only fetch about 35 cents each. Now, as even these catches have diminished, fishermen are shifting their sights to manta rays and mobula rays.
The region includes the Pacificâ€™s most important Leatherback Turtle nesting site. Offshore reefs protect an astounding 1320 species of fish, as well as 553 species of coral. Some of these reefs have proven to be particularly resilient. Some of these reefs include coral-building resources that help sustain the entire Coral Triangle, making its protection all the more vital.
Shark Savers is supporting the effort with this petition. The Raja Ampat Fisheries and Tourism Departments needs to hear that there is great international interest in prohibiting shark fishingâ€”especially among the eco-tourists and divers who are attracted to sharks.
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