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Bahamas signs anti-poaching legislation to protect sharks
By Gena Gibbs, BIS
Jul 6, 2011 - 6:43:06 PM

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On July 5, BNT and PEW witnessed the Bahamas Government sign an amendment to the Fisheries Act to impose penalties against those that violate anti-poaching legislation and kill sharks in The Bahamas to sell. Seated from left to right: Minister of the Environment, Earl Deveaux; Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Larry Cartwright; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Brent Symonette. The back row are members of PEW and the Bahamas National Trust. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).

Nassau, The Bahamas – Anti-poaching legislation was signed July 5, 2011 to create a sanctuary that protects sharks in Bahamian waters from being hunted down for their fins.  

“The Bahamas’ prohibition on long line fishing gear 20 years ago protected the marine resources of The Bahamas and ensured that our shark populations would remain healthy,” said Eric Carey, executive director of The Bahamas National Trust (BNT).   

Mr. Carey said, however, there were no specific laws in The Bahamas for the protection of sharks, the crown jewels of ocean health. He said the new regulations signed by the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Larry Cartwright, ensure that sharks can continue to thrive for generations in Bahamian waters.  

The Bahamas joins countries such as Palau, the Maldives, and Honduras in prohibiting the commercial fishing of sharks, by adding an amendment to the Fisheries Resources Act, Chapter 244.  The jurisdiction and conservation protection also restricts the sale, importation, and export of shark products within the 250,000 square miles of the archipelago nation.  

Throughout the world, 73 million sharks are in the process of becoming an endangered species because a lack of regulation allows the commercial fisheries industry to kill them for their fins.      

“2011 is fast becoming the year of the shark,” said Jill Hepp, manager of global shark conservation for the Pew Environment Group.  

Toomey Cartoon A shark cartoon celebrating the Government’s decision to guard sharks in the Bahamas from poachers shows appreciation for the recognition. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).

“Today’s announcement permanently protects more than 40 shark species in Bahamian waters. We applaud the people and government of The Bahamas for being bold leaders in marine conservation.”  

The Bahamas was created into a new sanctuary, after a Bahamian seafood company threatened to catch sharks and export their fins. The collaboration between the Pew Environment Group and BNT produced popular public service announcements and a supportive petition signed by more than 5,000 Bahamians.   

Since 1959, BNT has been the only non-governmental organisation, established by an Act of Parliament, to conserve Bahamian natural and historic resources, as well as manage the entire country’s national park system.  Its partnership with the PEW Environment Group uses science to protect the oceans, preserve wetlands and promote clean energy.   

This partnership has attracted the attention of globally known environmentalists, such as Pierre-Yves Cousteau (son of Jacques Cousteau), scientist and artist Guy Harvey, and Sherman’s Lagoon cartoonist Jim Toomey have contributed their share to supporting shark protection awareness in The Bahamas.

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