Palau, World’s First National Shark Sanctuary, Result of Cruel Practice of Shark Finning

Palau Shark Sanctuary

The island nation of Palau is leading the way in efforts to protect sharks. A Palau-based shark conservation organization was founded in 2001 to bring about an end to shark-finning in Palau with an additional goal to have Palau’s exclusive economic zone declared a Shark Sanctuary. Palau Shark Sanctuary is a member of International Year of the Shark 2009.

Pew Charitable Trust banner on visiting shark sanctuary in PalauPalau Shark Sanctuary was founded in November 2001 by Dermot Keane a staff member of a locally owned Palau dive center whose next door neighbor is a long line fishing base. The original purpose of the Palau Shark Sanctuary was to raise awareness about, and bring an end to, the rampant and destructive practice of “shark-finning” by foreign fishing vessel licensed by Palau to fish in their waters.

Palau in the South Pacific, world's first declared shark sanctuary, 136 species Mission Statement: Protect Palau ‘s sharks and other marine creatures. The Palau Shark Sanctuary, Palau ‘s first shark conservation organization, was founded in November 2001, in response to the reckless slaughter of Palau ‘s sharks for shark fins, by foreign vessels licensed by Palau to fish in their waters. Goal: Establish the waters within Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone as a Marine Sanctuary for Sharks.

Shark Alarm – Palau

The tiny pacific nation of Palau has declared itself the worlds first national shark sanctuary. A large proportion of the 100-million sharks killed each year, are hunted in its territorial waters. This carnage is being fueled by Asias rapidly growing appetite for shark fin soup. The sharks are captured, have their fins hacked off and are then thrown overboard to die.

Johnson Toribiong, Palaus PresidentIf you are a guest of honor they give you a bowl of shark fin soup, says Johnson Toribiong, Palaus President, sometimes they catch sharks illegally, sometimes they catch tuna illegally.

This tiny island has warned the world it will protect its natural resources, but with only one patrol boat, can the shark sanctuary ever be enforced? Shark activist Dermott Keane believes they can’t do it alone; Palau needs assistance in enforcing this sanctuary.

This is a particularly worrisome development as approximately 100-million sharks are killed annually for their fins. All too often the fins are cut from the shark while still alive and it is thrown back to die an immobile and painful death. See more details below. 

In Gorgeous Palau, Explorers Find Wonders Worth Protecting

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala led an expedition in September 2014 to document the stunning biodiversity of the Republic of Palau’s waters and assess how a marine protected area could help safeguard the ecosystems of this paradise for generations to come. The expedition was part of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project. 

Click here to learn more about Pristine Seas:…

Click here to read a National Geographic News article about Palau burning boats to deter illegal fishing:…

Click to see stunning photos of Palau from National Geographic Travel:…

Palau: An independent nation since 1994, the Republic of Palau was formerly a United Nations Trust Territory administered by the U.S. following WWII. Known today for its pristine environment and astounding biodiversity, Palau is considered to be among the world’s top dive destinations.

With Palau ‘s economic growth still in its infancy, tourism industry based on world-class scuba diving is a leading source of revenue. Destruction of Palau ‘s shark population not only contributes to the worldwide war on sharks, it also poses a very real threat to Palau ‘s economic survival.

Cruelty of Shark Finning

shark-finningOne of most unsightly and sadistic practices in the fishing world on the high seas is Shark Fining, which involves cutting the fins off live sharks, for soup, and discarding the fish as it suffers a painful death helpless in the ocean or suffocating on the deck of a fishing trawler. Upwards of 100-million sharks for slaughtered every year with dire consequences to marine environments should the go extinct.

The economic value of the rest of the shark is negligible and shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in many Asian nations, a combination which has resulted in a particularly gruesome chapter in man’s relationship with the animal world.

Website Snapshot of Stop Shark Finning.netStop Shark Finning T-Shirt from Stop Shark Finning.netShark Finning, a group that has taken up the noble cause of stopping this senseless shark slaughter with a number of activities and resources. Check out their cool gear by clicking the shirt logo, right, and contact them at

What is shark finning?

Pile of dead sharks at bottom of sea minus their fins only, 100 million a year are killed this way.Shark finning is the practice of slicing off the shark’s fins while the shark is still alive and throwing the rest of its body back into the ocean where it can take days to die what must be an agonizing death. Some sharks starve to death, others are slowly eaten by other fish, and some drown, because sharks need to keep moving to force water through their gills for oxygen. Shark fins are used as the principal ingredient of shark fin soup, an Asian “delicacy.”

Eating shark fin soup, an expensive delicacy in Asia responsible for death of 100 million sharks annually. Demand for shark fin soup has rocketed in recent years due to the increased prosperity of China and other countries in the Far East. Shark fin soup, which can easily cost $100 a bowl, is often served at wedding celebrations so that the hosts can impress their guests with their affluence. Because there is such a high demand for shark fins, traders can make a lot of money from shark fin, but it is the restaurant owners who really “make a killing” in this foul trade.

The cruelty of shark finning is really disgusting. Fishermen are only interested in the fins because shark meat is of low economical value and takes up too much space in the hold. It also contains urea, which turns to ammonia once the shark has died and contaminates other fish.

Shark fin itself is tasteless, it just provides a gelatinous bulk for the soup which is flavored with chicken or other stock. Many people, especially the consumers, are unaware of the suffering that finning causes.

What effect has shark finning had on shark populations?

To put it bluntly, shark populations have been decimated. Globally. Tens of millions of sharks are slaughtered every year to satisfy the demand for shark fin soup; at least 8,000 tonnes of shark fins are shipped to restaurants around the world. Fishermen report that sharks are getting smaller because they are not being given time to mature.

Grey Nurse Sharks off Australian coast, they are protected species but in international waters fair game. Shark populations take a long time to recover as they can take over seven years to reach maturity and they only raise one or two pups a year. Twenty species of sharks are listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). In a few years many species of shark could become extinct if action is not taken immediately. Populations of many shark species have fallen by over 90%. Since 1972 the number of blacktip sharks has fallen by 93%, tiger sharks by 97% and bull sharks, dusky sharks and smooth hammerheads by 99%.

What will happen to the oceans of sharks become extinct?

2014-01-29-sharkfinsforsharkfinsoupearthdrreesehalterThe consequences of the decline in shark populations on ocean life are immense. The large shark species are “apex” predators, they are ecological stabilizers, once they are gone, all hell will break loose. For example, along the U.S. East Coast where large sharks such as black tip and tiger sharks have been virtually eliminated, there have been declines in shellfish numbers and a reduction in water quality (shellfish filter sea water). Populations of small sharks, rays and skates have increased rapidly, consuming shellfish at an unsustainable rate. If you remove apex predators from an ecosystem the result is the same as removing the foundations from a building – total collapse.