Honduras Designates Shark Sanctuary in Exclusive Economic Zone
Good news for sharks this week! Honduran president Porfirio Lobo Sosa signed a bill into law on Friday to create a permanent ban on commercial fishing for sharks in Honduran waters. The law will effectively establish a shark sanctuary within all 92,665 square miles of Honduras’s exclusive economic zone, encompassing both its Pacific and Caribbean coasts. MarÃa Antonieta GuillÃ©n de Bogran, the Honduran first vice president, described the shark sanctuary bill as, “an opportunity to contribute to the conservation of the species and protect our national patrimony.”
The sanctuary will protect many species of sharks namely resident gray reef and white tip reef sharks but also migratory species including hammerhead, Caribbean reef and ocean white tip sharks whose populations have been negatively impacted by fishing pressure. With Honduras being an important diving and tourist destination, sharks are much more valuable alive than dead. An Australian study estimates that an individual shark in the waters of Palau has an estimated tourist value of $2 million! Additionally, because sharks are top predators, they help keep coastal ecosystems and fish populations healthy, which in turn produces economic revenue, albeit hard to quantify.
Despite being a small country, Honduras is making big waves with this legislation and leading the charge for shark conservation worldwide.