Stop the Wasteful Fishery of Shark Finning – Palau

June 6, 2009
With recent proposed legislation that would decrease protection of Palau’s shark populations, Palau has the monumental opportunity to take a stand against shark fishing and be an example to the world of how healthy marine ecosystems can lead to a thriving tourist industry. In 2004, Palau received international recognition for passing legislation that protected shark populations and outlawed shark finning. This legislation has helped to maintain Palau’s biodiversity and beautiful, healthy reefs that draw tourists in from all across the globe. Tourism is Palau’s main industry, and in 2007, tourist spending contributed $111.9 million to Palau’s economy. Virtually all of Palau’s tourists engage in some sort of marine recreational activity, with more than half of the visitors coming to dive with Palau’s famed shark populations.

Now the very sharks that attract tourists are at risk of being eliminated from Palau’s waters. Proposed legislation (SB 8-44) aims to reverse Palau’s protection of sharks and would allow the slaughtering of sharks in Palau’s waters. This bill would also relax regulations on shark finning. While some politicians believe that participating in the shark fin trade will enhance Palau’s economy, this bill would instead have detrimental impacts on Palau’s robust tourism industry. In the Maldives, for example, tourists spend $2.3 million per year on shark dives, which is estimated to be 100 times greater than the value of the country’s exported shark meat and fins. Similar statistics have been found for the Bahamas, Australia, and the Philippines. This proves that sharks are worth more alive than slowly dying while their fins dry on a fishing boat. Furthermore, as top predators, sharks play a vital role in maintaining the stability of ecosystems and food webs and their removal can upset the web of life which includes all reef habitats.

Because of these reasons, opening Palau’s waters for shark finning will cause the decline of Palau’s diving industry and main source of income. It is also morally unconscionable for a civilized society such as that of Palau to cause the suffering of animals.

Some shark populations have decreased by 98% in the past three decades. Palau is one of the world’s few places where sharks can still be seen in abundance in a healthy marine environment. Allowing shark finning would wipe Palau’s reputation as a shark paradise off the map.

Please support Ocean Futures Society in convincing Palau’s leaders that SB 8-44 will be devastating both to Palau’s economy and its marine ecosystems, and that ultimately, the local Palauan people will be the ones who suffer if the bill is passed. I strongly urge you to take action by opposing SB 8-44. You can take action by calling or writing a letter to the following leaders and organizations of Palau. Explain to them that if this bill is passed, tourists will turn to other destinations where the marine ecosystems are healthy. Tell them that conservation of the “Blue Corner” and its species is the most profitable and sustainable choice.

President Johnson Toribiong
Tel: (680) 767-2403 /2828 /2532/ 8732

Senator Hokkons Baules, Vice Chairman of the Committee on Resources, Commerce, Trade, and Development
Tel: (680) 767-2455 / 2522 / 1452 / 1558

Adalbert Eledui, Director of Koror Department of Conservation and Law Enforcement
Tel: (680) 488-2150/4001 ext.285

Palau Chamber of Commerce:
Belau Tourism Association:
Palau Visitors Authority:

You can also visit the Shark Savers website to sign a petition against the proposed legislation.