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Fiji Time: 11:35 PM on Wednesday 23 April

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Shark haven debate

Ronish Kumar
Friday, July 06, 2012

DECLARING Fiji a shark sanctuary means having the resources to support them, says USP Marine School head Joeli Veitiyaki.

Following a recent debate about declaring Fiji a shark sanctuary, Mr Veitiyaki said people must realise that sharks depend on other fish species for survival.

"We have to be mindful of the natural system and we need to respect the complexity of the environment," he said.

"If we increase the number of sharks we need to have enough corresponding species to meet the food requirement of the sharks."

Mr Veitayaki said it would be wiser to declare marine protected areas in the breeding place of sharks.

However, specialists say sharks play an important role in an ecosystem because they do not overpopulate.

"They help keep the balance in a naturally healthy reef ecosystem," Ms Helen Sykes said.

"Sharks produce only one to six babies every year and they reproduce when they are 10 or 12 years old."

Ms Sykes said it was difficult for shark species to overpopulate and any overpopulation would mean there was something already wrong with the reef ecosystem. "As top predators sharks play an important role in maintaining the structure and function of the ecosystem," she said.