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A win for shark protection proponents

The efforts of around 5,000 Bahamians are paying off, with a shark ban petition sent around by the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) gaining government support in the biggest way — regulations protecting the shark population.

“The government has agreed to amend the fisheries legislation to prohibit the export of sharks from The Bahamas as a result of the petition and advocacy of the Bahamas National Trust,” Environment Minister Earl Deveaux announced yesterday.  “Once the regulations are done, they essentially gazette it and table it in Parliament.  It’s not a law that we have to pass, we just have to give an appointed day notice by publishing it.

“So, [the attorney general’s office] has been instructed, they have the printed ones (instructions) and I can’t say how long it will take a lawyer to do it, they have a draft to work from, but this is something that is imminent.”

It’s a feat for many like the BNT and the Guy Harvey Research Institute that have been lobbying for this kind of shark protection for the past year around the world and in Bahamian waters.

Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation at the PEW Institute, said the marine ecosystem cannot survive without educating the public on the importance of such regulation and its purpose.  He explained there is a danger of shark overfishing, as 73 to 100 million are killed annually, with significant demand for shark fins in China.  In that country, the fins are used to make shark fin soup which is sold for as much as $100 per bowl.

The Bahamas has no shark protection laws. However, there are protected marine parks across the country, preventing commercial fishing in those areas.
Dr. Harvey said in an earlier trip to the country that he would like to see the Government of The Bahamas place strict rules on the capture of sharks.

“There are only two or three remaining areas of the world that have any kind of meaningful abundance or scientific abundance of sharks,”he said.

“Australia and New Zealand have fiercely protected their sharks, as(has)The Bahamas, and that action two decades ago by The Bahamas has already proven that this kind of forward thinking can be very beneficial in terms of how you use and abuse your marine resources.”

Experts say The Bahamas could lead a campaign to protect sharks regionally from overfishing and indiscriminate capture.

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