Shark Ecotourism May Generate $780 Million In

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

20 Years
Pacific countries already using ecotourism to bring in money

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 4, 2013) – Shark eco-tourism will soon generate more money than shark fisheries, according to a study by the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Shark ecotourism currently generates more than US$314 million annually worldwide and is expected to more than double to US$780 million in the next 20 years, the study found.

In comparison, the landed value of global shark fisheries is currently US$630 million and has been in decline for the past decade.

"I think the most important thing for us is that people realize that there are alternative economic uses for natural resources," lead author, Andres Cisneros-Montemayor, from UBC said.

An estimated 38 million sharks were killed in 2009 to meet the demand in Asia for shark fin, the study found.

But shark watching and diving with sharks is a major earner in areas such the Pacific, with Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Palau and Tokelau creating shark sanctuaries.

"Something that is being done all over the world... has been putting in shark protection areas. These are large expanses of marine protected areas where shark fishing is either banned or very strictly controlled," Mr. Cisneros-Montemayor said.

"We've seen little by little more and more governments trying to do it, and one major reason for that is the emergence of shark eco-tourism. So when governments notice that their citizens are making a lot of money from tourism activity centered around sharks, they are much more willing to protect them."

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