Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WWF Understands Shark Tourism - New Report

A new WWF report in tandem with James Cook University highlights what the global commercial shark diving industry already knows, sharks are in decline everywhere.

What makes this latest report interesting are the drill down tourism numbers for live sharks vs fisheries.

Where short thinking, hyper political doom predictors in Florida, and now Hawaii seek to ban commercial shark encounters at least one credible NGO understands why shark tourism is good for local economies and yes, sustainable shark populations:

SHARKS are worth more alive than dead.

New research shows the ocean predators draw a healthy chunk of the tourist dollar.

WWF Australia spokesman Nick Heath says shark tourism is on the rise but shark numbers are declining, with estimates placing reef shark populations at three to 12 per cent of their original size in some parts of the Great Barrier Reef."We must do more to protect these top predators from disappearing on our watch, if not for the benefit of the environment, then at least for the benefit of the back pocket," Mr Heath said.

"A guaranteed shark sighting is worth its weight in gold to the tourism industry."

He said recent research by James Cook University found potential shark sightings were a major drawcard to the diving sector, with tourists willing to pay thousands of dollars to see a shark in the wild.

The researchers estimated up to 25 per cent or $1,375 of each visitor's expenditure in Cairns and Port Douglas in far north Queensland went towards the opportunity to see a shark.

Divers mostly want to see hammerhead sharks followed by whale sharks and tiger sharks, the study found.

The group says more than 70,000 sharks are taken by fishermen each year in waters off north Queensland, many inside the Great Barrier Reef area.

Sharks thus come under particular threat because of slow growth rates, late sexual maturity, long gestation periods and birthing only a few young at a time.

Complete Story