We have long been advocates of re purposed shark fisheries. As is the case in Holbox, Mexico where many of the local shark fishermen now take paying tourists to see whale sharks.
In the past 5 years this unique site has gone from a regional coastal shark fishing hub to a multi million dollar shark tourism mecca.
Worldwide coastal shark fisheries can be re purposed to service a growing $300 million dollar commercial shark diving industry, but time is running out.
The dollars and sense of re purposed shark fisheries make sense for local and regional economies. Fishermen typically make a few dollars per pound of sharks fin and meat.
Commercial shark diving delivers from $40-80 per diver, sustainably.
This week a feature story about the human cost of shark fisheries was highlighted in a great article by Kevin Sieff in The Texas Observer.
We can re purpose shark fisheries, easily, and quickly with some political will and a little bit of vision. Sustainable tourism is as simple as making a cell phone ring and it will be up to our industry to lead the way:
“They’re fishing in a prime habitat for juvenile sandbar and blacktip sharks,” says Karyl Brewster-Geisz, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who produced a 15-page report on illegal shark fishing along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2005. “And unlike the U.S., where permits are issued for particular species,” she says, fishermen in Playa Bagdad “take whatever they can get.”
Scientists say a growing trade in shark fins is depleting shark populations around the globe and disrupting ecosystems long dependent on the predator’s presence. On the Texas-Mexico border, shark fishing threatens more than the environment. “This is our sovereignty we’re trying to protect,” says Lt. Mickey Lalor, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard’s South Padre Island station. “These are our resources. These are our waters.”