International Protection of Caribbean Sharks following Dutch proposal
Great news for shark conservation in the Caribbean. Today it was officially decided to protect eight shark species under the international Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol following a proposal by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs in cooperation with a team of shark experts. The SPAW protocol is the only cross-border legislative instrument for nature conservation in the Wider Caribbean Region.
Political representatives of 14 Caribbean countries came together in Cayenne, French Guiana to vote which species would officially be added to the SPAW protocol. Through the SPAW protocol, which is a United Nations initiative, the signatory countries set agreements to protect vulnerable animals and their unique habitats. The agreements concern trade and fisheries, as well as tourism and coastal development. Until now, no sharks or rays were included in the protocol, despite being an especially threatened animal group, both on a global scale and in the Caribbean region. The main threats to shark populations are overfishing and destruction of vital habitats such as coral reefs and mangroves.
“We are delighted that our proposal got such broad support from the present countries,” says Guus Schutjes of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. “The Netherlands has strived for the structural protection of nature and biodiversity in the Caribbean for some time now and cross-border protection is an essential part of this.”
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