Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thank you Palau! Sharks can keep their fins.

Last April, Palau announced they were considering legislation to legalize shark fishing for foreign vessels in their water. Yes – Palau. A country who relies upon tourism for over 60% of their GDP – the majority of that being dive tourism.

Over the last several months, Shark Savers, with the support of several international and local Palau organizations, has been actively conducting a campaign to protest this legislation, engaging citizens of the world to appeal to the government of Palau through individual letters and through a petition. And in that time, countless letters have been written while the petition gained over 4,500 signatures; many from tourists who had or were planning on visiting Palau.

A month ago, we received notice that an independent governmental committee had assessed the legislation and made the recommendation to repeal this legislation – in part thanks to the outpouring of support from folks who participated in our campaign.

This month, I am sure everyone is aware by now that Palau has completely changed their stance. A true 180 degree strategy shift. Instead of opening their waters, Palau has unequivocally closed them – creating the world’s first national shark sanctuary. 240,000 square miles protecting 130 species of sharks. And while Palau, like so many other countries, does not have the funds to enforce the sanctuary to the level needed (a recent flyover revealed 70 long lining boats in these waters) and our work is clearly not done, it is an important step. One that deserves some recognition!

Please sign the thank you card to President Toribiong and Palau. We will be presenting this to him to celebrate this win and show everyone that together, we can protect sharks. Hopefully this attention ignites much more positive change.

And besides, it is so nice to sign something positive related to shark conservation, isn't it? We would like to get at least 10,000 signatures, so please have everyone you know sign it.

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