WELLINGTON, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- The Pacific island nation of Palau has created the world's first shark sanctuary.
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Palau President Johnson Toribiong declared his country's entire Exclusive Economic Zone, an area of 629,000 square km, roughly the size of France as a shark sanctuary, Radio New Zealand International reported on Sunday.
The sanctuary will ban all commercial shark fishing within Palau's waters.
Toribiong also called for a global ban on shark fishing and said he will work with the international community to protect sharks threatened by international trade and to set science-based limits on the number of sharks that can be caught on the high seas.
Toribiong said healthy shark populations are critical to both the health of the world's oceans and the health of Palau's economy.
He said the rampant, illegal and wide scale removal of sharks from Palau's waters deprives the ecosystem of its apex predators and his country's tourism, one of its main attractions.