BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS ESTABLISH PERMANENT SHARK SANCTUARY
The designation by the cabinet of the British overseas territory prohibits commercial fishing of all shark and ray species throughout the full exclusive economic zone. That area amounts to 80,117 square kilometers (30,933 square miles). The designation also bans the sale and trade of sharks and shark products within the territory. Many threatened or near-threatened shark species, swim in the waters off the British Virgin Islands. By committing to these comprehensive and permanent conservation measures, the territory has established itself as a global leader in protecting the predators that are vital to the health of our oceans.
The announcement fulfills the commitment made by the territory’s premier, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith, OBE, during a 2013 meeting of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative on regional protections for sharks. The British Virgin Islands (BVI) now joins The Bahamas and Honduras, which declared shark sanctuaries in 2011.
“Our people are committed to sustainably managing our resources,” said Dr. the Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour of the BVI. “We recognize that sharks are important to our oceans and our reefs and that the best way to manage their populations is to let them fulfill their ecological role as apex predators.”