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World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary

The Marshall Islands are now home to the world’s largest shark sanctuary, an area of the central Pacific Ocean four times the size of California.

The central Pacific Ocean republic said it would ban trade in shark products and commercial shark fishing throughout all 768,547 square miles of its waters in an effort to protect sharks under threat from habitat loss and fishing.

“In passing this [shark protection] bill, there is no greater statement we can make about the importance of sharks to our culture, environment and economy,” said Sen. Tony deBrum, who co-sponsored the bill in the archipelago’s Parliament. “Ours may be a small island nation but our waters are now the biggest place sharks are protected.”

The Pew Environment Group, which advised the government of the Marshall Islands, is spearheading efforts to establish shark sanctuaries, where targeted fishing for these species is prohibited.

“We salute the Republic of the Marshall Islands for enacting the strongest legislation to protect sharks that we have seen,” said Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation for the group. “As leaders recognize the importance of healthy shark populations to our oceans, the momentum for protecting these animals continues to spread across the globe.”

Palau, the Maldives, Honduras, the Bahamas and Tokelau have also established shark sanctuaries “We look forward to helping other countries enlist in this cause,” Rand said.

More information is at the The Pew Environment Group.