TORIBIONG HONORED FOR SHARK PROTECTION EFFORTS

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Palau leader receives Shark Savers award

By Bernadette H. Carreon - KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, April 21, 2010) –– The Shark Savers, a worldwide organization dedicated to shark conservation presented on Friday to President Johnson Toribiong a book consisting of signatures and comments thanking the Palau leader for his shark sanctuary announcement.

Dermot Keane, founder of the Palau Shark Sanctuary presented the book on behalf of the organization to the president.

"It is with great pleasure that we present to you this book containing the signatures and messages from the many people throughout the world who are grateful for your actions to protect the sharks of Palau," Keane said as he read the message of the foundation’s Executive Director Michael Skoletsky.

The foundation came up with the book as a form of commendation to the country for declaring itself the world’s first National Shark Sanctuary has already collected a total of 1,589 signatures from all over the world.

"As you read through the comments in the book, you will notice how greatly moved we all are that you have taken this important and bold action. Palau has become much more than a place in our diving logs, but a place in our hearts, as well," Skoletsky said.

Skoletsky added that after Palau took its pioneering step, the Maldives has joined in declaring its waters a shark sanctuary. Honduras has placed a moratorium on shark fishing as it considers doing the same.

"We hope that you have started a trend among the nations that harbor the remaining sharks," he added.

The foundation also lauded Palau in taking the lead in the recent Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting to protect shark species from international trade.

CITES parties however did not grant protection to four species of sharks.

The United States and Palau had introduced two proposals to list several species of hammerhead sharks and the oceanic whitetip shark under Appendix II to regulate the international trade of these highly threatened species.

The U.S. and Palau worked together on this proposal because of the current threats to these shark species.

The organization said though they were disappointed with the outcome, Toribiong nonetheless was lauded for spearheading the fight.

Keane said that the Shark Saver answered the call by Palau Shark Sanctuary to rally international support to prevent the undoing of Palau’s landmark shark protection legislation as proposed in Senate Bill 8-44. Shark Savers created an on line petition calling on Palau to block SB 8-44.

Toribiong for his part thanked the organization for their contribution to protection of sharks.

Signatures and words of support and congratulations come from people in the US, Europe, Canada, Asia and South Africa.

Shark Savers is dedicated to creating educational awareness programs about sharks, their critical importance to a healthy ocean environment, and the severe decimation of shark populations occurring throughout the world.

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