Bahamas Trust Launches Campaign To Protect Sharks

Thursday 28th, October 2010 / 09:06 Published by

The Bahamas National Trust formally launched a local shark conservation campaign aimed at pushing the government to create comprehensive regulations to protect the sharks of The Bahamas.

It’s an effort that carries with it a certain sense of urgency, now that The Bahamas is one of only a few locations around the world that can boast of healthy shark populations.

Jill Hepp, manger, Global Shark Conservation, Pew Environment Group, which is working with the BNT on the “Protect the Sharks of the Bahamas” campaign noted, “You’re starting from a situation where there’s nothing specifically on the books that would prohibit or restrict or manage the shark populations here.”

While sharks are in trouble globally the state of shark populations here are among the best in the world, according to researchers. The relative health of the shark populations in The Bahamas has been attributed to the country’s ban on long-line fishing in the 1990s — combined with the fact that there is no incentive for local fishermen to sell shark meat.

Conservationists are looking for a comprehensive set of regulations that would encompass the prohibition of commercial fishing of sharks, the prohibition of the export of shark meat and fins, and the prohibition of selling shark products.

While there exists a government policy that currently prohibits the export of shark meat and fins conservationists feel that specific guidelines would not only allow protections to be enforced, but it would also go a long way in planning for any eventualities that could threaten shark populations.

As top predators of the food chain, sharks help maintain the balance of marine life in the ocean. They regulate the variety and abundance of the species below them in the food chain, and help to maintain the health of their marine habitats, including seagrass beds and reefs.

Maintaining the healthy populations also means that The Bahamas can hold on to its status of a top shark research site. Over the past 20 years, 60 shark studies have been conducted in Bahamian waters.

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