Sharks are critical to marine health, yet their numbers are in decline. Their predatory ferocity has proved no match to the enormous fishing pressure they are subjected to from the global shark fin trade. But this year, leaders from around the globe worked together to protect sharks like never before.
As a result, commercial fishing of these animals is now prohibited in more than 4.7 million square kilometers (1.8 million square miles) -- an area bigger than India. In the United States, trade bans on sharks and shark products have passed in California, Washington, and Oregon, and internationally in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Check out our 2011 roundup of victories for shark conservation worldwide.