In 2009, when Palau announced they were creating the first ever “shark sanctuary” – permanently closing their waters to all shark fishing – they set an example for the world. Palau stood up for sharks – many of which (thirty percent) are threatened with extinction. Since then, several other countries (Maldives, Honduras, the Bahamas, Marshall Islands, Tokelau, and Federated States of Micronesia) have established “shark sanctuaries” too.
Mention “sharks” to a group of people and you will get a range of opinions from blood-thirsty killers as depicted in “Jaws” to graceful predators important for ecosystem health (the latter remark is probably from a marine scientist, but you get my drift). I’ve been lucky enough through work and travel to have dived with a few sharks, and although some experiences were heart-thumping I’ve never been threatened by one. These days it’s more likely the reverse.
One of my favorite things about the Green Chefs/Blue Ocean online course for chefs and culinary students is how we discuss innovations in different fishing methods. If there’s a catch method that has high bycatch, we also let folks know what gear modifications are being developed to reduce bycatch.