A Mexico-size chunk of the Pacific will soon be a haven for sharks—and they have a tiny island nation to thank. The Marshall Islands’ government is declaring its waters off-limits to commercial shark fishing and the trade of shark products, the BBC reports, providing the creatures with 750,000 square miles of worry-free swimming. “There is no greater statement we can make about the importance of sharks to our culture, environment, and economy,” says a senator.
“Ours may be a small island nation, but our waters are now the biggest place sharks are protected.” Violators of the new rules will face up to $300,000 in fines. It’s “the strongest legislation to protect sharks that we have seen,” says a shark-conservation rep for the Pew Environmental Group, and the move ups sharks' protected area worldwide to about 1.8 million square miles. Keeping a close eye on fishing boats is good news for marine biodiversity in general, the BBC notes. But some question how the rules can be enforced over such a large area.