Honduras declared an indefinite moratorium on the fishing, commerce or export of all shark species or any of their derivatives in 2010. In 2011 this became a permanent ban on shark fishing or trade through a presidential decree sign by President Porfirio Lobo Sosa on 24th June.
The measure protects sharks in the 92,665 square miles of Hondurasís Exclusive Economic Zone, which encompasses both its Pacific and Caribbean coasts, making Honduras the first country in the world to declare a bioceanic shark sanctuary.
The signing of the shark sanctuary declaration occured at an event held on Roatan, organised by the Pew Environment Group, who are partnering with CEM in Honduras. At the event CEM staff working with colleagues at the Shark Legacy Project organised the release of two captive nurse sharks, providing the opportunity for the president to interact with the sharks and learn about their biology and ecology, before they were released on to the local reefs.
In addition CEM, working with the Roatan Institute of Deep Sea Exploration, are using a submarine to tag six gill sharks with both identification tags and a pop up satellite tag 2000ft below the surface of the sea. This is the first time in the world scientists have attempted to tag and study these deep water animals at their natural depths.
Providing legal protection to sharks is an important step towards conserving these essential ocean predators, CEM is now developing the national shark management strategy for Honduras that aims to identify ways to help reduce their bi-catch by other fisheries, limit illegal trade and promote the expansion of their conservation to neighbouring countries in the region.