From the International League of Conservation Photographers:
Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to the ban on shark fishing in the Honduran Caribbean, enacted on June 24, 2011. In a dramatic demonstration, Lobo Sosa personally put the torch to 144 pounds of illegally harvested shark fins recently confiscated in Laguna Brus, in Western Honduras. A pungent smoke filled the air during the press conference that followed.
"It is really strong to show the people that we are burning something that has value," said Maximiliano Bello, Senior Advisor for Global Shark Conservation to the Pew Environment Group. "But we needed to do that because there is still some illegal fishing going on, and it's important to show people that fishing sharks is illegal."
With its declaration of making the nation's entire maritime waters a shark sanctuary, Honduras provides legal protection to sharks from fishing and prohibits trade in their parts or derivatives. This is an important step to conserving these apex ocean predators. Implementing management strategies for sharks that help reduce their by-catch by other fisheries, limits illegal trade and identifies ways to expand their conservation to neighboring countries is essential to their survival.
The Center for Marine Ecology, based in Tegucigalpa, is working with local fishing communities and government officials to implement sustainable fishing practices that help ensure the long-term health of the marine ecosystems of Honduras. "We want to reorient these fishermen, so they can take advantage of the resources that are abundant, said Dr. Steve Box, Executive Director of the Center for Marine Ecology. "This needs to be done in a sustainable way, so they don't need to catch sharks. We need sharks in the ocean." [Text continues after images.]
Shark Ban Announcement
L-R Jefe del Estado Mayor Naval-Capitan de Navío; Hector Orlando Caballero, Minister of Natural Resources Rigoberto Cuellar, Representante General de las Fuerzas Armadas; Contar Almirante Juan Pablo Rodríguez, Maximiliano Bello; Pew Environment Group, and Steve Box of the Center for Marine Ecology listen as President Porfirio Lobo Sosa reaffirms the country's commitment to a ban on shark fishing.
Shark Fins Burning
President of the Republic of Honduras, Porfirio 'Pepe' Lobo Sosa, ignites confiscated shark fins in Tegucigalpa and reaffirms is commitment to enforcing the shark ban.
Maximiliano Bello, Minister of Natural Resources Rigoberto Cuellar, and President Lobo listen as Steve Box speaks of the need for an alternative, sustainable, relationship between the fishing community and Honduran marine natural resources.
The charred remains of shark fins confiscated in Laguna Brus, Western Honduras. This lot weighed 114 pounds and represents an estimated 184 individual sharks.
Rotting heads of nursing sharks on the cays of the coast of Honduras. While shark poaching may still exist in Honduras, president Sosa has reaffirmed his commitment to enforcing the shark sanctuary in Honduran waters.
Fisherman off the coast of the Mosquitia region in southern Honduras catch a hogfish. Artisanal fishing can provide sustainable alternatives for deterring fisherman from poaching sharks.
A purple sea fan accentuates the rich corals that exist in the reefs off the coast of southern Honduras. Protecting these reefs will ensure a safe habitat for sharks and other marine life to thrive.
Mapping The Reef
Marine biologist and executive director for the Center for Marine Ecology, Steve Box, surveys the reef system along the cays off coast of the Mosquitia region of Honduras.
Currently Honduras' lobster fishery relies on scuba divers to harvest the crustacean for export. Due to the dangers of scuba based fisheries, and an impending ban of scuba diving in the lobster harvest, Hondurans will have to rely on artisanal methods for catching lobsters without tanks.
A portrait of a Honduran lobster and conch diver.
The fishman's assistant helps navigate the turquoise waters surrounding the cays off the coast of southern Honduras.
La Mosquitia's Future
A group of kids sit outside a local shop in Puerto Lempira, the capital of Gracias a Dios providence in Honduras.
About the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP):
iLCP enlists the skills and expertise of some of the best conservation photographers in the world to advance conservation efforts around the world. iLCP is currently working with the Honduran-based Center for Marine Ecology to capture--in both images and video--the story of innovative community-driven efforts to conserve marine biodiversity and provide sustainable livelihoods in the Honduran Mesoamerican Reef region.