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Shark sanctuary in Samoa

A new shark sanctuary in Samoa has been lauded by environmentalists worldwide. The tiny island nation in the western Pacific Ocean is helping the world's most vulnerable marine species to survive.

Samoa is a small island in the Pacific Ocean with only about 200,000 inhabitants. The country has roughly the same size as Luxembourg in Europe or as Rhode Island, the smallest state of the USA.

The shark sanctuary in the Pacific will help the shark population to recover from overfishing. A sanctuary is a nature or marine reserve, where threatened and endangered animals find refuge from poachers or other dangers. The sanctuary measures about 129,000 square kilometres (50,000 square miles) and will be as big in size as the land area of South Korea.

Only a small area of the Samoan waters will be left open to local fishing and foreign trawlers which currently dominate the fishing grounds will be banned. With the creation of a sanctuary for the animals, the government also put a ban on commercial fishing and trade.

“To us Pacific Islanders, the ocean shapes our sense of home, it drives our economies and it is woven into our culture.” (Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi)

Sharks are killed by marine poachers especially for their shark meat and fins. These are used in some Asian countries for traditional medicine and cosmetics. Samoa joins seven other Pacific nations, among them New Zealand, Palau and Kiribati, in their conservation efforts. Palau was the first nation to create a large shark sanctuary in the Pacific in 2009.

Sharks are precious for our ocean health

With this move, Samoa wants to increase conservation awareness and safeguard the marine animals for future generations. The country's prime minister Tuilaepa remarked that sharks are an important species that play a critical role in maintaining a healthy ocean ecosystem. The creating of the sanctuary will draw tourists to the country who will be able to experience these magnificent creatures in the Samoan waters.


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