The Republic of Kiribati and its people declared all its waters a shark sanctuary in 2015, a move demonstrating the strong commitment towards the implementation of SDG 14. The sanctuary ensures conservation of sharks to protect and balance the marine ecosystem, including commercially important fish species and the health of marine habitats such as coral reefs. The shark sanctuary aims to sustain and develop Kiribatis economy from shark and marine related eco-tourism, in light of its 20 year vision focusing on fisheries and tourism. This reservation provides a source of income that will ease pressure currently placed on tuna, our single important resource.
Given the sharks highly migratory nature, establishment of this shark sanctuary contributes to the network of other countries in adopting measures to protect sharks by closing the waters in its three non-continuous zones spanning across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This will provide long-term benefit for Kiribati and have far reaching positive impacts to region and the globe as a whole.
In 2015, enactment of the Shark Sanctuary regulation allowed Kiribati to ban all fishing vessels operating in its waters from harvesting certain species of sharks and from using wire traces on board as condition of licenses. These measures have been implemented and are monitored for their effectiveness.
Through community consultations and engagement programmes on the protection of sharks, entails local communitys commitment towards sustainable marine ecosystem. The shark sanctuary regulation recognizes our traditional culture where sharks are consumed for food, allowing persons of I-Kiribati descent to harvest sharks for food and not for commercial purposes. The Government of Kiribati has been very active in informing and building awareness to the local community and enforcing such measures to protect sharks from being harvested for commercial purposes.