A global overview of shark sanctuary regulations and their impact on shark fisheries
Due to rapid declines of shark populations across many species and regions of the world, the need for large-scale conservation measures has become widely recognized. Some coastal states have opted to implement ‘Shark Sanctuaries’, which prohibit commercial shark fishing and the export of shark products across large areas, typically their entire Exclusive Economic Zones. Although shark sanctuaries cover almost as much area globally as marine protected areas (MPAs), their success has yet to be evaluated. Here, key features and regulatory details for eleven shark sanctuaries (covering 3% of global ocean area) are summarized, highlighting their commonalities and differences. Catch data are then used to shed light on the impact current shark sanctuaries could have on shark catch, foreign fleets, trade and abundance. Based on this comparative analysis, recommendations are made to implement program evaluation measures within existing and future shark sanctuaries that would explicitly outline goals and measures of success or failure. In summary, although shark sanctuaries may have the intended effect of reducing shark mortality, there appears a need to address bycatch within shark sanctuary regulations, and to collect baseline data that can be used to monitor sanctuary effectiveness.
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