New Shark Sanctuary Encompasses Entire Island, is a First in Indonesia

shark on hook photo

Photo by danflo via Flickr Creative Commons

Sharks hanging out around Indonesia have a safe haven around the island of Raja Ampat in Indonesia, thanks to a new announcement that an incredible 17,760 square miles around the island has been declared a reserve. The reserve also encompasses one of the most biologically diverse marine areas in the world, so sharks aren't the only animals who will benefit from the protections. According to EarthTimes, Raja Ampat has seen a significant increase in shark finning and manta ray hunting -- two species important for maintaining ecological balance. As a response, advocate organization Shark Savers and the Misool Eco Resort gathered 8,500 signatures on a petition requesting the formation of a sanctuary that encompassed the entire island.

Thanks to the hard work of these conservationists, the new sanctuary is a first of its kind for Indonesia and could be an idea that will spread to other areas. The sanctuary protects not only sharks, but sea turtles, dugongs, and other iconic animals. No poisons or bombs are allowed for fishing, and sustainable ecotourism will be promoted to keep the habitats healthy.

There is of course the expense of enforcing the new regulations, but the heightened ecotourism will help with those costs, states Shark Savers, and the organization "will play an ongoing role to mobilize continued support of divers and conservationists to fund long-term enforcement in the Shark Sanctuary."

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