Sharks may strike fear in our hearts but they also bring money to local economies — $2 million each as a matter of fact. A study released today shows just one reef shark can be worth nearly two million dollars in tourism revenue over its lifetime. Shark conservation is not only an ecological necessity but the value of these fish is far great alive than dead as this research team from Australia proves.
The team studied sharks in Palau and put a financial figure based on money spent on tourism in areas where these sharks make their homes. Shark finning and other harvesting activities are in fact endangering shark populations are driving some species towards extinction. This report proves they are a greater benefit alive and in their native environment over being thought of as merely a catch target.
Palau is also very unique becoming the first country to declare all of its territorial waters as shark sanctuaries back in 2009. The team found the annual value of a reef shark to be around $179,000 annually, translating to around $1.9 million over the animal’s lifespan.
We’ve been vocal against shark finning — where sharks are caught their fins cut off and then they are left to die — and it is good to see hard figures to help convince countries to embrace the thought of creating sanctuaries for the predatory fish. Some studies have shown millions of coastal and open-water sharks are being hunted and harvested each year for the growing shark meat market and Chinese delicacy of shark-fin soup.
“Shark tourism can be a viable economic engine,” said Matt Rand, a shark expert at the Washington-based Pew Environment Group, which commissioned the research. “This study provides a compelling case that can convince more countries to embrace these animals for their benefit to the ocean and their value to a country’s financial well-being.”
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) notes around one third of open-water sharks face extinction, plus regional studies have shown that when shark populations crash the impact cascades down through the food chain, often in unpredictable and deleterious ways.
Thanks to Steve Pro for sharing this link!