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Current Issues in Tourism, 2011
RedOrbit, 29 June 2011

Shark populations over the last 50 years have decreased dramatically. From habitat degradation to overfishing and finning, human activities have affected their populations and made certain species all but disappear.

A new article in Current Issues in Tourism by Austin J. Gallagher and Dr. Neil Hammerschlag of the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami study the impact of these apex predators on coastal economies and the importance of including conservation efforts in long term management plans……

The team collected data from a total of 376 shark ecotour operations across 83 locations and 8 geographic regions…..

“We know that for many countries, sharks are an important piece of the economy — in this study we wanted to examine their value as a recreational resource in a new and refreshing way by taking a global perspective,” said Gallagher.

“It makes total economic sense for us to protect these resources, whether you are in charge of a coral atoll somewhere in Indonesia or working off the coast of New England—if the sharks can remain, the divers will follow and livelihoods can flourish.”

According to the study, a single reef shark could be valued at $73 a day alive, as opposed to the one-time value of a set of shark fins used for shark fin soup at $50. Over the course of that same shark’s life, it could be worth more than $200,000 using a conservative 15-year life cycle. The study also documented trends by species, and found that reef sharks and whale sharks are among the most well-represented in the ecotourism industry.

“Our study clearly shows that, economically speaking, sharks are worth more alive than dead; however, sharks are also ecologically important, helping maintain the balance and health of our oceans,” says Hammerschlag.

Sharks reproduce very slowly, so even modest amounts of fishing can negatively impact local populations. But with appropriate conservation policies, sharks can begin their recovery, a road that could be both enjoyable and profitable through ecotourism. More……

Comment:
See also the included Charts. The pie-chart in figure 3 (page 8) caught my particular interest: it did not come to a surprise to see Oceania as number one, followed by North-America and the Greater Caribbean. But I see a great improvement needed for Europe and North Africa/Middle East. Such „investment“ may bring a great economical value to these countries! Investing in Ocean-Conservancy is definitely a win-win-win-situation, for the people, for the country, and for our ocean’s‘ life!

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