Honduras has a law against drug trafficking, a law against child prostitution, a law against drunk driving. Since June 24, Honduras has now a law against fishing for sharks. Still Chinese restaurants on mainland Honduras serving shark fin soup shouldn’t expect to be raided by police agents looking for Honduras fished sharks. The legislation has no teeth, no ways of enforcing and few marine patrolling resources.
After a temporary one year ban, the 240,000 square kilometers of Honduras Water are now officially a permanent shark sanctuary. Honduras, after Palau and Maldives is only the third nation in the world to sign such a ban. By signing the document Honduras government is hoping for good press, more tourists and more money for conservation.
So far Honduran waters have not been a target for commercial shark fishing operations and the ban has more meaning for international environmental groups. “As commercial fishermen we understand that we need to protect the resource [sharks],” said Governor Shawn Hyde, also a general manager at a local seafood packing plant.
Around the world, an estimated 38 million sharks per year are killed for their fins. While studies show that sharks have much more value alive than on a plate, the legislation to protect the apex predators have been slow to follow. Honduras follows Palau, a Pacific Island nation that also has banned shark fishing from its waters. Chile is looking to be the third country to ban shark fishing.
Bay Island tourist businesses have been making money off shark tourism since 1990s. Waihuka divers, based in Dixon Cove have been showing gray and reef sharks to divers for the past nine years. Other dive shops, especially those on Utila, have been attracting divers who want to see the elusive whale shark species that each spring migrates around the archipelago. Even deep sea dwelling six-gill sharks are an attraction for tourists coming to the islands to pay for a commercial sub dive Stanley Submarines based in West End. [/private]