Sharks worth more in the ocean than in a bowl of soup

Lucrative shark tourism industry - set to be worth US$780 a year - could provide incentive to end the shark fin trade

Shark tourism 观鲨旅游

Shark tourism generates more than US$314M annually and is expected to more than double in the next 20 years (Image: Photodisc/ Thinkstock)

The global conservation of sharks may soon be worth more than the industry hunting it, according to researchers.
The newly emerging tourist industry surrounding sharks is worth more than US$314 a year worldwide and is expected to soar to US$780 million in the next 20 years.
In contrast, says a study published in The International Journal of Conservation, the value of global shark fisheries – which sees 38 million sharks killed every year to meet the demand for shark fins – is currently US$630 million and predicted to continue its decade-long decline.
The study’s researchers say the growth of shark tourism provides an economic incentive to preserve endangered species.
“The emerging shark tourism industry attracts nearly 600,000 shark watchers annually, directly supporting 10,000 jobs,” says study author Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor, from the University of British Columbia . “It is abundantly clear that leaving sharks in the ocean is worth much more than putting them on the menu.”
In Australia and New Zealand alone, 29,000 shark watchers are said to generate US$40 million in tourism expenditure every year.
Growth of shark ecotourism
Infographic credit: The Pew Charitable Trusts