The Bahamas, known as the shark diving capital of the world, has become the fourth country to ban commercial shark fishing. Activists began campaigning for stronger protections after a seafood company announced plans to set up a finning operation to export shark meat and fins to Hong Kong.
Thousands of Bahamians spoke out in favor of the ban and, with shark-related tourism bringing $78 million a year to the Bahamas, the government couldn't ignore the international pressure either. Under the new law, the more than 40 species of shark found in the 243,000 square miles of water surrounding the islands will now be protected from commercial fishing operations.
The Bahamas is the shark diving capital of the world. In the 1990s, a ban on longline commercial fishing provided the ocean predators -- and the divers who love to swim with them -- a bit of a haven around the islands. But now there's a new threat to sharks: a seafood export company wants to set up a finning operation.
Shark finning is not only unsustainable, it's also incredibly cruel. The fins are sliced off the animals while they're still alive and then their bodies are dumped back in the ocean to drown or be eaten alive by other fish.
As many as 100 million sharks or more are killed every year for their fins. But to island nations who rely on healthy ocean ecosystems and tourism dollars from divers, sharks are worth more alive than dead.
According to the Bahamas Diving Association, shark tourism has brought in $800 million to the Bahamas over the past 20 years. When tourism and ocean health are at stake, international pressure makes a big difference.
The Global Shark Conservation Campaign and local activists are urging the Bahamian government to protect sharks with a ban on commercial shark fishing and the export and trade of shark products.
Tell the Bahamian government to pass shark protections.
Photo credit: Albert kok