Fish Poaching in the South Pacific
The island paradise of Palau in the South Pacific is a hotspot for illegal shark hunting. Dealers on the black markets in Taiwan and Hong Kong pay hundreds of dollars for shark fins. An estimated hundred million sharks are killed every year. But if the sharks finally disappear, the ecological equilibrium will be destroyed. This ruthless over-fishing has grave consequences for marine life. At the moment Palau's coral reefs are unique. Conservationist Tova Harel often heads out to the reef to count sharks. A large number is good news, because research has shown there are always more fish around a coral reef when there are enough sharks around. Palau's government passed a ban on shark hunting years ago. But the police still frequently have to call Tova Harel to the harbor to examine dead sharks found on illegal fishing boats. In fall 2015, the island state banned all commercial fishing in much of its territorial waters. But the marine police only have one ship capable of taking to the open sea and the illegal fishermen know all the tricks. Environmental agencies now want to set up a satellite system to monitor Palau's vast territorial waters. They hope Palau's example could set a precedent.