President Porfirio Lobo Sosa of Honduras has announced a permanent shark sanctuary in Honduran waters, building on the country's 2010 shark-fishing moratorium. The designation...

President Porfirio Lobo Sosa of Honduras has announced a permanent shark sanctuary in Honduran waters, building on the country’s 2010 shark-fishing moratorium.

The designation encompasses all 240,000 square kilometers (92,665 square miles) of the country’s exclusive economic zone on its Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

“We have seen that protecting sharks helps our environment and our people,” said Honduras’ Vice President María Antonieta Guillen de Bogran, who also attended the president’s announcement. “When tourists come to Roatan and other destinations, they spend money to see the sharks. But these animals don’t just help the Honduran economy. Our coral reefs and marine environment thrive because these apex predators are safe in our waters. Today’s declaration will help us all, underwater and on land, for generations to come.”

The gentle, filter-feeding whale shark is the biggest shark of all. The biggest known specimens have reached 12.65 metres (41.5ft) in length and more than 36 tonnes (79,000 lb) in weight. Additioinally, there have been unconfirmed reports of whale sharks even larger than these behemoths

“Honduras has now set a conservation standard that other countries in the Americas should emulate,” said Jill Hepp, manager of Global Shark Conservation for the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts. “More and more, world leaders are realizing that, in addition to their value to the ecosystem, sharks are worth more alive ‒ for diving, snorkeling and watching ‒ than dead.”

President Lobo Sosa signed legislation that established the sanctuary at an event hosted by the Pew Environment Group on the Honduran island of Roatan, a well-known scuba-diving destination. Sosa also joined other government representatives from Central America to observe shark research off the coast.

“Because of overfishing and the global fin trade, scientists estimate that up to 73 million sharks are killed every year,” said Maximiliano Bello, senior adviser to the Pew Environment Group in Latin America. “This action taken by Honduras today, along with the future actions it will inspire, will help immensely in lowering this unsustainable catch.”

In September 2010, President Lobo Sosa joined President Johnson Toribiong of the Pacific island nation of Palau at the United Nations to challenge other world leaders to save sharks, stop the practice of finning and end global overfishing of the species. Palau established its shark sanctuary in 2009.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is a nongovernmental organization that works globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect the Earth’s oceans, preserve its wildlands and promote clean energy.

For more information on the Pew Environment Group’s shark-conservation efforts, visit