It is a true statement of fact, that the world would be a much poorer place without sharks. Some sad people can only measure the worth of something in monetary terms. Luckily – a study published by researchers from the University Of British Columbia in 2013, showed that sharks are actually worth more to us alive in hard cash too!
The study showed that shark ecotourism currently generates more than £205 million annually worldwide and that figure is expected to more than double to £510 million in the next 20 years.
This is very different to the landed value of global shark fisheries which is only £412 million and that figure has been going down each year for the past decade. In 2009, the global fin trade accounted for an estimated 38 million sharks being killed.
“The emerging shark tourism industry attracts nearly 600,000 shark watchers annually, directly supporting 10,000 jobs,” says Andres Cisneros-Montemayor, a PhD candidate with UBC’s Fisheries Economics Research Unit and lead author of the study. “It is abundantly clear that leaving sharks in the ocean is worth much more than putting them on the menu.”
This makes sharks one of our most valuable underwater treasures!
“Sharks are slow to mature and produce few offspring,” says Rashid Sumaila, senior author and director of UBC’s Fisheries Centre. “The protection of live sharks, especially through dedicated protected areas, can benefit a much wider economic spectrum while helping the species recover.”
The research team (which consisted of members from the University of British Columbia, the University of Hawaii and Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur in Mexico) examined fisheries and ecotourism shark data from 70 sites in 45 countries. Almost £81 million was generated annually in the Caribbean from shark tourism, supporting more than 5,000 jobs. In Australia and New Zealand, 29,000 shark watchers help generate almost £26 million in tourism expenditure a year.
The message is clear – Save Our Sharks!