FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 30, 2011
The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL)
(415) 834-0900 ext. 319
MARSHALL ISLANDS BECOME THE WORLD'S SIXTH AND LARGEST SHARK SANCTUARY
Latest sanctuary designation offers additional encouragement for Fiji to move its own shark protection efforts ahead
Suva, Fiji-The Republic of the Marshall Islands is now home to the largest shark sanctuary in the world. The new legislation officially bans the commercial fishing of sharks in all 1,990,530 square kilometers of the nation's waters, an area equivalent to the size of Mexico. The Marshall Islands joins Palau, Honduras, Tokelau, the Maldives, and the Bahamas in prohibiting the commercial fishing of sharks in their nation's waters.
"We salute the Republic of the Marshall Islands for recognizing the importance of healthy shark populations to our oceans," said Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation for the Pew Environment Group, the organization which is spearheading efforts to establish shark sanctuaries where targeted fishing for the species is prohibited. "The momentum for protecting these animals continues to spread across the globe, creating greater areas where they can thrive without the threats of commercial fishing."
The news of the Marshall Islands comes as Fiji's government considers revisions to its own fisheries laws that would ban commercial shark fishing and the trade of shark fins and other products derived from sharks captured in national waters.
The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), in partnership with the Pew Environment Group and the Fijian Ministry of Fisheries, is championing this new legislation. Through a targeted campaign determined to raise local support for a designated shark sanctuary, the team is educating communities in Fiji about the importance of sharks to both their history and their economy.
"Fiji is home to a high diversity of sharks and many of these species are threatened with extinction globally," said Manoa Rasigatale, a member of CORAL's Fiji shark sanctuary campaign team. "It is time for the Fijian people to proudly stand alongside our brothers in the Central Pacific to ensure long-lasting protection for sharks."
The Fijian government is expected to issue an official decree before the year's end. The successful passing of the decree would make Fiji the first Melanesian country to approve comprehensive protection for these iconic animals.
To learn more about the efforts to declare a shark sanctuary in Fiji's waters, visit: www.coral.org/fijisharks 
About the Coral Reef Alliance
The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) unites communities to save coral reefs. We provide tools, education, and inspiration to residents of coral reef destinations to support local projects that benefit both reefs and people. Originally founded in 1994 to galvanize the dive community for conservation, CORAL has grown from a small, grassroots alliance into the only international nonprofit organization working exclusively to unite communities to protect coral reefs. Visit www.coral.org .