Target: Teina Bishop, Cook Islands minister of marine resources
Goal: Commend the Cook Islands for helping to protect sharks from being hunted and killed.
The Cook Islands in the South Pacific announced the creation of a 1.9 million-square-kilometer shark sanctuary that bans the possession, sale, and trade of shark products in an effort to end commercial shark fishing and remedy the upset in the oceanic food webs seen in recent years. The Cook Islands contribution to the sanctuary brings the total area protected to 6.7 million square kilometers, alongside the waters protected by French Polynesia and the Marshall Islands. Sign this petition and applaud their efforts in creating the world’s largest shark sanctuary.
According to the BBC, about one third of sharks appear on the Red List of Threatened Species put out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission. The hunting and killing of sharks disrupts the complex ocean ecosystem as sharks are key predators whose presence affects variables in the ocean from the populations of fish and sea turtles to the health of seagrass beds. According to the PEW Environment Group, who worked alongside both the Marshall Islands and the Cook Islands in the creation of the sanctuary, over 70 million sharks are killed each year to support the global shark fin industry. Sharks are especially vulnerable to over-exploitation because sharks mature late and do not reproduce very often in their long lifetimes.
Other island nations who offer sanctuary to sharks are the Bahamas, Honduras, the Maldives, Palau, and Tokelau. The efforts of these island nations to come together and work together to save one of the world’s oldest and majestic animals is inspiring. Sign this petition and applaud the creation of the world’s largest shark sanctuary and encourage other nations to join the global movement.
Dear Teina Bishop, Cook Islands minister of marine resources,
We applaud your recent efforts in creating a shark sanctuary that bans the sale, trade, and possession of shark products. Your addition of 1.9 million square kilometers to the waters already protected by French Polynesia and the Marshall Islands brings the total area protected to 6.7 million square kilometers, making it the world’s largest shark sanctuary. This is an amazing feat.
We can only hope that by bringing recognition to the cause, other nations will follow suit and create their own sanctuaries for these majestic animals. Their survival is vital to the health of our oceans and with 30 percent of their population marked as threatened or near-threatened by the increase in industrial fishing and the shark fin industry, it is critical that we act now to protect the shark populations.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: StormyDog via flickr